One of my close friends recently told me that I “text like a guy”. This is probably an unfair gender stereotype but her point was that my text messages are blunt and, without any emojis, emotionless. She said that my text messages often made her wonder if I was pissed off. Probably because I always sign off with 😤 😾 .
No, (JK) in truth I was very surprised. I never meant to convey that message. I’m generally a happy person and rarely pissed off with anyone. But, for me, text messages have always been functional. “Sorry I’m running late”, “Can you pick up some milk on your way home?”, “What’s your address?”, “Are you free for coffee?” And previously the closest I ever got to using an emoji is signing off with ‘xo’. Until I returned to Australia a few months ago I didn’t even know that people who weren’t 12 years old and listening to One Direction actually used these weird miniaturised cartoons to express their emotions.
And when I finally figured out where the illusive emojis were located on my phone 📲 I couldn’t figure out what they meant. In real life I’m pretty attune to people emotions, but confronted with this set of wide-eyed expressions I was immobilised with concern that I would pick the wrong face and start a diplomatic incident. I thought perhaps if you scrolled over them they would tell you in words what they were trying to express. You see, this looks like a crazed, slightly terrified person to me 😁, or maybe she just has bad braces; and this 😜 looks like a person who has just been electrocuted. But people seem to use them regularly in normal conversations and I’m confused.
Another very good friend of mine once said, “If the zeitgeist is here”, pointing where we were standing, “then Emma is over there”, pointing far off into the distant land of backward backwardness. Its true, when I recently moved back to Melbourne from living in Thailand and South Africa for the last 6 years I had never heard of Spotify and I thought Taylor Swift was still a country singer. I am so outdated that I still use Hotmail. Seriously.
Its not that I’m intentionally averse to popular culture or social media; I’m not sitting in self-righteous judgement thinking that it is mindless and beneath me. I think I was born just a couple of years too late for it to feel natural. For me posting on social media feels a little like getting a pap smear - awkward and uncomfortable. 😳
In many ways social media is used to present a carefully crafted persona to the world and to reaffirm one’s ego. We compare our fake selves with other fake selves and question whether we are good enough. This doesn’t seem particularly helpful, for anyone.
But I have started to wonder lately if my fear of social media wasn't coming from a similar egoic space. Perhaps I deliberated too much about a post, in large part because of a concern about exposing myself to criticism and judgement. Perhaps I needed to embrace the moment, let go and just post.
The truth is, I’m probably never going to be fully comfortable trying to express ideas in 140 characters, or sharing pictures of myself, taken by myself, with people I don’t really know. But the point of life is to evolve. So with this blog, I am trying to embrace the emoji, represent the most authentic version of myself on social media, and be less self conscious about it. It still makes me slightly nervous every time I post something, but in what might seem like a contradiction, being deeply honest and sharing my vulnerabilities has been liberating and I feel stronger than ever.
Sending out lots of love. I’m not pissed off with anyone, I promise. The cat with the freaky heart-eyes says so. 😻