I do not like texting.
Touch screens weren’t designed to be finger-friendly for a 6 ft 7 inch-tall man with extra-large hands, and I would much rather pick up my phone and talk to someone than try tapping up a clumsy message for them with innumerable spelling errors that auto correct will no doubt make even more inscrutable with its own guesswork of what I was trying to say.
Not my business partner though.
Alicia Ellen, CEO of Mastodon Media, is a congenital texter. With her racing thumb and two fingers, she aims to gain mastery over the entire world, and if I am to keep up with her, and her chosen medium of communication, I simply have to text.
That is how emojis came into my life. Well, one emoji at any rate – the `smirking face’ one with a half-smile and a half-sneer that has saved me from having to type my usual response to an overexcited Alicia ready to jump off the deep end with an incredible idea she has thought up in some hotel room (she travels a lot) at 2 am, when me and my family are safely tucked in bed.
“Hmmm. Okaaay, suuure….”
That’s the message my `smirking face’ emoji sends out to her, with the subtext being: “You need to get off the tippy top of that high mountain of enthusiasm you’re scaling right now, and show me some hard evidence to back up whatever it is you’re saying… And yeah, please, can you go to bed?”
The `smirking face’ emoji is super handy that way.
It stops Alicia right in her tracks – and also gets her goat because she hates receiving that emoji from me as my feedback on her next big idea. Don’t get me wrong — many of her ideas do prove to be actionable and advantageous. Just not in their first flush of ideation – that as her filter, I have to listen to at 2 am in the morning, and temper with a return message advising calm and clarity.
Thankfully, my friend and business partner gets who I am, and the vagaries of my strong, D/C type personality. Sarcasm is second nature for me. I rely on good-natured humor to both tease and teach, and the `smirking face’ emoji is single-handedly responsible for reining in Alicia’s inspired creativity that needs to be guided and managed most of the time.
Having discovered this one emoji, as defense against Alicia, I find that I am now using it more and more.
I suppose that is the thing with emoticons, and what makes them such an ingenious tool in the modern world of real-time communications. When context is so often lost in the soulless verbiage of emails and texts, emojis add that essential human feeling that is so incredibly important in messages being received in the same spirit as with which it was sent.
Me? I am still using it mostly as an excuse to not have to text.
From example, with my core group of nine friends who constantly keep up a thread of text conversations that I rarely participate in.
To reel me in, they will use `kale’ as a devise. I am in love with kale, you see. I grow kale, I cook kale, I eat kale. And they think my devotion to this antioxidant-rich, green leafy vegetable is hilariously funny. So they will post a snarky comment about kale, and I will feel compelled to come up with a suitably cutting response. Well, now I don’t have to, because my smirky face emoji does the job for me.
Same with my mother. It is incredible how my mother believes that every illness has been put on this planet for the sole purpose of threatening the health and happiness of her large, strapping, 37-year-old son. She goes from doctor to doctor, picking up a skewed body of conflicting knowledge and opinion on everything I do, and then communicates those concerns to me via long, protracted texts that I have neither the time nor the inclination to address or clarify. (Tried that in the past…losing battle.)
So out comes my trusty, smirky-face emoji to deflect all that well-meaning and loving motherly concern. No doubt, she is as fed-up as Alicia with my habit of using the emoji as a standard, go-to response.
But emojis do save a lot of texting for a communication-controlled sort of guy like me. And so yes, I’m shamelessly owning and keeping this one!
Matt is a founder and CEO of Mastodon Media. He’s a Christ-inspired entrepreneur with a mission to help professionals grow and companies flourish with the Christ-led principles of Business Discipleship.