Death to emoji! Rage against the death of the word!

This has engendered a certain amount of discussion on social media, so I thought I’d share it here as well:

Of course, I meant “emoji,” because I wasn’t just talking about faces. I had thought “emoji” was just the cutesy shortening of “emoticon” — and my purpose was to wage war on cutesiness — but Wikipedia said not to confuse them.emoji

“Emoticons” are just the hypersimplistic, stylized representations of human facial expressions. And while I don’t much like them, they don’t irritate me the way other tiny images placed in Tweets and texts in place of words do. Things like slices of pizza and party hats and such…

Years ago, I read an article about how Umberto Eco — the semiotician who is best known as the author of The Name of the Rose — was predicting the advent of a post-literate society. This was a couple of decades ago, long before emojis. I seem to remember him talking about the Medieval days when, say, a pub called “The Fox and Hound” would mark itself with images of those animals instead of words, since the proprietor knew most prospective patrons would be illiterate.

Eco predicted we were headed back toward that darkness.

Lately, we hear regularly about the post-literate world that’s coming into being. Increasingly, our devices respond to voice and facial recognition more than typed input.

Well, I’m not going to sit still for the dying of the word. I’m going to rage, rage against it…

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7 thoughts on “Death to emoji! Rage against the death of the word!

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Bud, who hates neckties with a passion, would really have enjoyed this…

      We had our quarterly board of governor’ lunch at Cap City today. Toward the end of the meeting, one of the members brought up the dress code. Others joined in, and soon we had a regular harrumphfest going.

      I didn’t say anything, but at one point I deliberately, audibly cleared my throat. I didn’t want any of the governors to be able to point at me and say, “I didn’t get a harrumph out of that guy!

      Anyway, seriously… we had an interesting conversation about culture and social expectations and changing fashions and mutual respect and the club’s history of inclusiveness (it exists to be inclusive), and if it had all been on the record, I’d have written a post about it so we could continue the conversation here.

      Bryan, do they have conversations like that at your club? I mean, I know y’all have a rule against pantsing people — and I honor you for that — but aside from that?

      1. Claus2

        As far as being “inclusive” why don’t members such as yourself tell others how they can join? What if I wanted to join and eat a cheap breakfast every morning, how would I go about doing so?

          1. Claus2

            So the only way to become a member is to be sponsored is what I’m hearing you say, that anyone off the street can’t just join.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Actually, I’m not sure about that. The being sponsored thing. Although people usually ARE sponsored, I don’t know whether that’s a rule or anything…

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