I spent the last session with a 15 year old who said she lost her best friend over an emoji. They were both liking the same boy and one of them put heart eyes emoji on one of his instagram pictures and the other one lost it. They had a huge fight. That obviously means that she liked him. Why else would she like that picture? It brought up a deep competition between them that had been buried for years, but this sealed the deal. It was too much for the one to bear, and hence, they broke up. So there are three rules for emojis.
1. Examine if it’s worth your time. (Do I really care about this person or his/her emojis?? What else could I be doing other than staring at my phone?)
2. Examine what else the emoji might mean. (Could it just be friendly?)
3. And lastly, what other feelings is this bringing up for you from the past? (Do I feel angry at this person for other reasons?)
Take a breathe before you assume. Likely down the road these two girls will get together again only to discover that the boy was manipulating both of them! There is nothing wrong with getting a little perspective. What a difference a day can make. If there’s any way to talk to someone face-to-face it’s always preferable. Oftentimes it’s a simple misunderstanding. Emojis are not the same as real life. Real life expressions can have a range of meanings. One young woman just told me that a guy she got really close to over text just distanced himself. He “dubbed” her. I have heard this over and over. What are they so afraid of? Could a guy try to say, instead of “hey I’m just not that into you,” something like, “I need some time to reflect but I’ll get back to you soon.” What happened to common courtesy? Also it’s not practical to be tethered to your phone as a working person. You cannot possibly be doing your job right if you’re texting all day. Let the person you’re talking to know that you have to work!
In the olden days we didn’t have constant communication, and this was alright. You had a chance to think, to miss somebody and to get things done, or just to be alone with yourself. One couple tried to communicate by emoji only for 30 days to see if it would ruin their relationship. It almost did. You see emojis just aren’t enough. We are complex beings and we lash out, we fear, we rejoice and we mourn. There’s no emoji for feeling rejected or miserable because of the weather, or just plain sad because you miss your childhood. There’s no emoji for I love you but I hate you at the same time. There’s no emoji for I want to be with you but I’m scared I’ll lose you. So please remember that language is still the best form of communication we have.
I love technology. But it is robbing us of human decency. When the President can tweet foreign policy it’s no wonder young men and women are afraid to talk about feelings. Impulsivity trumps all; but it can also get you into a world of trouble. Take charge of your life by remembering to talk to people with compassion, slowly, articulately and with sensitivity to all their triggers. You never know when you might meet your next BFF.