Adam Sternbergh recently wrote a lengthy explainer on Emoji, those Japanese icons that have pervaded our text and instant messages. One aspect of the article caught my attention. Speaking from the perspective of a Gen-Xer, he notes that communicating in Emoji has been especially popular with “our” parents:
Many people I spoke to relayed that their moms were the most enthusiastic adopters of emoji they knew. One woman said that her near-daily text-message-based interaction with her mother consists almost entirely of strings of emoji hearts. Another woman, with a septuagenarian mother, revealed to me that her mom had recently sent a text relaying regret, followed by a crying-face emoji—and that this was possibly the most straightforwardly emotional sentiment her mother had ever expressed to her.
As a data point, I offer my own mother.
Over the last few months, my mother began messaging me, which she almost never did in favoring of calling me, and increasingly started to insert a series of Emojis in each message. She ends each communication with the Older Woman Emoji, which acts as a signature for her messages.
I have to admit that the Mac OS/ iOS version of the Older Woman Emoji does look a bit like my mom but only because of her grey hair, which she’s had since her thirties. My mom would have to take off her glasses, pull her hair back, and put on some lipstick to really look like the Apple version of Older Woman Emoji.
And when she wants to include a reference to my dad, she inserts the Man Emoji. Again, the Apple version of this Emoji does resemble my father, or at least when he was a bit younger.
That’s pretty impressive when you consider that only four years ago, my mother referred to every digital device she ever encountered as “that thing.”