By Salomon Maya
Emoji’s. They are the bane of my existence. What at first seemed like a cute and unique way of expressing an emotion has turned into the overused fad of the decade. One might look at the reasons for this phenomenon and wonder how and why this happened; but I believe I have found the answer: mothers. Since I only have one mother, I shall use her as an example (sorry mom—feel free to use the thumbs down emoji when emailing my editor).
My mom. Once a soothing voice when I fell down and of reason when I screwed up, is now so full of random information (thanks to her diving deep into the world of social media) that my brothers and I have dubbed her random rants “Bubbe CNN.” Shabbat dinners have turned into long discussions on arbitrary current events mostly started by my mom reading something on her cousins Facebook wall. Conspiracy theories, ranging from the political to the absurd, air frequently on Bubbe CNN.
Now, this is all fine. I love that my mother is using the internet to stay in the know. She has embraced technology quite well. But, when it comes time to send a text, well … hell hath no fury like a Bubbe with a new iPhone. My mother’s texts are so full of “emotion,” I never know what to think. Plus, even though she tries to stay current with events, her lack of in-depth tech knowledge sometimes takes a turn into the bizarre, albeit comedic, route.
I come home after work and the wife asks, “Salomon, why does your mom keep sending me the lesbian emoji?” Now, I’ve been alive for 36 years and I have heard many phrases, but never did I ever think that particular phrase would ever come from my wife’s mouth. I asked what she was talking about and she produced a text conversation with my mom where my mother would end almost every reply with the two women holding hands emoji. Now, I know many of you are saying … that’s not the lesbian emoji! That can be two female friends or a mother and a daughter … Or two lesbians (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Therein lies the rub my friends. Emoji’s and their meaning are very subjective; one person can see an emoji of two women holding hands being friends, family or lovers. So when a mother-in-law sends that particular emoji to her daughter-in-law, one can see where confusion can arise.
On Saturday, July 24, 2016 at 10:09 a.m., my mother sent me the following iMessage: “Happy Sunday, I love you four.” (By four she meant myself, the wife, my son and the dog). So what’s wrong with that? Nothing! What caught my eye was what followed. Two Emoji’s. One of a man and woman sharing a kiss with a heart between them … and the second emoji was the yellow happy face winking. Now again, my mother has only good intentions, but unknowingly sent two emoji’s that are just wrong. And I began to think, OMG, has she sent texts like this to her co-workers? Other family members? Random people?
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I love my mom. She’s one of the hardest working women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She has been a member of the Jewish community in San Diego for decades and is proud to call many people here friends. So, if you ever receive a text from her, with an eggplant emoji … that doesn’t mean … well ,you know. It means she probably is having a healthy dinner. And if she ends a text with two women holding hands? It’s just a “hey, I love and miss you.”
See, this is what we have to do when it comes to mothers and technology. They don’t come with an iMessage thesaurus so we must not believe what they send via text is verbatim. They’re mothers … and we love them. One big red heart emoji at a time.