A Brief Guide to My Emoji Usage

I was sending someone a text message the other day and needed just the right emoji. The conversation was completely over by the time I had sorted through the options and found the perfect one for the job, but in the process it got me thinking about what the little “frequently used emoji” part of the keyboard says about me. My conclusion was that it wouldn’t say much, because I use emoji in very specific, context heavy ways likely only clear to myself. So, with that in mind, I present a brief guide to some of my recent emoji usages:

😁 I’m quite proud of myself. Just thought you should know.

😍 My typical response to a picture of food I want to eat, or, occasionally, an adorable child who requires proper fawning over. Don’t be freaked out. Pretty much all of our impulses and reflexes, hunger and love included, have the same evolutionary root in survival.

🤔 Someone asked me what I was doing later that night. I planned to be on the couch then too.

🙄 I’d gone to bed early intending to wake up before normal. I woke up later than normal and missed this text. For years, sending me an article about politics used to get this one too, but recently this emoji hasn’t seemed aggressive enough.

😤 It is very frustrating to me when people conflate religion and spirituality. It makes me want to pout and shoot little jets of steam downward out of my nose.

😱 Lost a sock at the laundromat. The dramas of American life require some pretty expressive imagery to communicate. But no joke: the next week I ended up with an extra, totally different sock. Life is like the movies y’all.

🤛 Solidarity (with my wife).

✊️ Solidarity (with the part of humanity I am not married to).

🖕The political stories get this one now.

🌮 I was actually making quesadillas, but had to settle for the taco because since it was an Asian culture that first came up with the idea of sending pictures instead of letters, they got to choose the picture set. There are three noodle bowls, three rice dishes, and several sushi emoji, but if you’re eating quesadillas, you’re gonna have to approximate with either a burrito or a taco. I went with the taco here. It’s close enough.

🗺 I’ve recently decided this is my spirit emoji. Accordingly, I use it freely. Usually apropos of nothing.

💯 In response to a political image and statement a friend had made somewhere I’d normally consider inappropriate: Instagram (I’m here for landscapes and foreign lands and people who live in camper vans). But it was right on. I had to support him. I had TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED. It was something about how everybody had their heads up their butts. It turned out to be something I’d posted on my other account earlier that day.

💰 it was a Mardi Gras conversation. We were talking about a bag with a dollar sign on it. For a costume. Here ya go.

🐖 This pig was meant to indicate a creature who is happy because his wife is amazing. I’d identified myself with the pig in this situation for some reason. I wanted a happy animal that could just be blissful-happy and I recalled some saying like “happy as a pig” and thought about a pig smiling, which is heartwarming. After I sent the message I remembered the rest of the saying was “in shit”. All cool: immediately followed up with a joke about how terrible that sounded. The messages arrived nearly simultaneously. We laughed it off.

™ These days, when I want somebody to know what I’m saying is important, I capitalize the first letter of every word and add this emoji at the end.

🥇 I was describing “us” though I’ve forgotten who it was we were at the time. May have been sarcastic.

🇬🇱 I’ve always maintained that Greenland has the best flag in the world. Here’s the proof. At the ready. Boom.

💽 Needed to explain a minidisc to a deep millennial. Long story. She still didn’t get it. I told her nobody really did back then either.

🍻 Got good news? Here ya go! Cheers! Somebody decent died? Here: samesies. In memoriam, of course.

🙉 Some people share too much information. There is, unbelievably, very little I need to know about your medical history. Weird right? Talk to the monkey.

🐚 I shared a picture of these big empty shells along a canal bank in Bayou Segnette state park. I’d seen these before – they’re everywhere in New Orleans City Park – but hadn’t, until recently, known that swamp snails had an emoji. Been on the lookout for reasons to send swamp snail shells to people since.

🎶 I was excited to tell my wife that there were children practicing baseball in the park. We both love baseball. It’s the perfect sport: subtle, slow, deliberate and difficult, it’s everything America has abandoned! So baseball makes me happy. I wanted to sing about it. Hence the notes.

🍑 As in “you’re a peach”. Was a little nervous after viewing it in the context of the conversation: the statement was quite inappropriate if the emoji was interpreted as an attempt to depict butt cheeks. To my knowledge, this problem passed unnoticed.

🚀 Been using it as a plea, more than anything else, but it’s been weakening recently into an expression of commiseration. It meant, at least originally: DO YOU HAVE SOME KIND OF ROCKET SHIP TO TAKE ME AWAY IN.

🍯 it’s all good. It’s honey! Right? Yes but there is no gravy emoji now is there? So I use bee gravy instead: honey! It’s all honey.

🐓 OK it’s this whole thing with these friends I had for a while (still have the friends, but it’s a different dynamic now. Growing up is kind of cool.). Anyway, “chicken” meant something, I don’t remember exactly what, I’m not sure any of us knew, but as a result I currently use the chicken emoji to refer to any object of my loving, but occasionally militant disapproval.

🥀 Remember: our days are numbered. We are living on borrowed time. Every breath we take brings us closer to death. Everything is impermanent, passing away into oblivion.

🐙 This is my symbol for justice. I’ve recently developed an affinity for the octopus because I suspect the species is, in some undetectable, superintelligent way, plotting against humanity. I for one welcome our cephalopodian overlords.

🤢 It was Aaron Neville’s birthday. There was a two hour celebration of angelvoiced songs on the radio, and I was too lazy to turn it off. It’s not that I don’t like Aaron Neville, it’s just that two hours of that is the gentlest damn kind of rough you’ll ever have to endure.

🍠 “Hey is this a yam or a sweet potato?” Consensus is a sweet potato, likely the Japanese variety.

👯 I was referring to this adventure I’d had with a friend, long ago, and well, this was as close as I could get to “partners in crime” without going full-on “partners in life” with it.

There you have it: what I mean when I use emoji in a conversation. Is this really an easier way to communicate than using words?