Seriously, please help me understand emoji

This is going to make me sound really, really old. But it’s eating me up inside.

I don’t understand emojis (or is it emoji?).

Was I out sick the day the world declared that these tiny little images of faces or body parts or sports equipment are “in”? Are we really in a place where even “words” like “lol,” “jk,” and “omg” are just too long that we require a picture?

Below is a conversation that I had with my friend Benjamin (for some reason, he often texts at weird hours of the night, so I told him he’s the reason why I have to turn off the sounds overnight). Can anybody help me understand what he was saying?


(Benjamin never actually responded with the meaning of his cryptic emoji. Maybe the world will never know what he meant.)

I have a lot of questions about these things. Feel free to chime in and help this old lady out!

Top Ten Questions Lia Has About Emoji

  1. Are emoji supposed to be read in sentence form?
  2. Where does punctuation come into play?
  3. Are some emoji considered offensive and rude? Do these come under a separate PG-13 category?
  4. Are these even new? I seem to recall a million types of smiley faces back in my AIM days (and really, those were the days).
  5. Some of these images are hard for my old eyes to see. Do I have to enlarge my text message font and/or screen size in order to see and understand these tiny pictures?
  6. Do iPhone emoji speak to Android emoji, or does everyone get emoticon of confused face?
  7. Is there an “alt tag” on emoji — you know how on a computer, you can hover your mouse over an icon and a little bubble pops up explaining what the icon does?
  8. Are these images standardized? I seem to recall seeing someone dress in an emoji costume recently (I’m looking at you, Stef G.). Is that supposed to be something that is immediately recognizable and understood by the general population?

    Stef and her friends dressed as emoji. WHY? Is this something I'm supposed to understand? (Love you, Stef)
    Stef and her friends dressed as emoji. WHY? Is this something I’m supposed to understand? (Love you, Stef)
  9. I’ve already begun seeing these emoji creep into Facebook posts. Will they eventually poke their way into e-mails, business memos, resumes, novels, and bibles?
  10. Final question: What age is too old to be using these, and, no hard feelings, have I hit that age?

3 thoughts on “Seriously, please help me understand emoji

  1. I read this just after responding to your kind and very effortful birthday greeting with a single emoji reply. Just one!? I should have put forth more effort but I do tend toward the simplistic. Well Lia, while I applaud your gift for word composition I’m just a sucker for pictures.

  2. Vicki — I loved your thumbs up, because I understood it! If you had used 4-5 different emoji that I didn’t understand, I might have asked for an explanation, but I was totally with you! 🙂

  3. I am baffled by emoji(s) as well. It is almost like we are regressing to hieroglyphics… or Wingdings. I continue to only use words and emoticons in my writing, although the latter obviously never appears in formal writing.

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