For decades now, we’ve all been hamstrung by a little symbol that made the leap from 70s lapel button to the digital world: the smiley face. In the 70s, the smiley face was a simple contagion. You saw it. You smiled. Today, however, a smiley-face emoji at the end of a sentence doesn’t always send a clear message. A smiley face could mean:
- Have a nice day!
- Isn’t that silly?
- I just wrote something sarcastic, and this smiley face indicates you shouldn’t take it too seriously. Or,
- I just wrote something mean, and this smiley face absolves me of offending you.
The ambiguity can be a confusing time suck. “Is he mad at me?” “Does she have a crush on me?” “Does he really want me to stick a fork in his eye?”
We send subsequent messages, memos, and texts trying to parse the true meaning. What a waste.
Enter Microsoft Windows 10 to save the day with a new library of emoji. We can now say “F*** you,” with the “reversed hand with middle finger extended” emjoi. (And why isn’t a single emoji an emojo?)
There’s no mistaking the meaning of a firmly extended middle finger. And because society isn’t uncivil enough—especially cyber society—why not go ahead and just make it easier to be even ruder faster? Bravo!
According to Business Insider, the “bird” emoji has been available for some time. But Apple, Google, and Twitter prevented it from working.
Showing leadership that must have gnawed Apple to its core, Microsoft now lets us get right to the point and flip the bird—in five shades plus gray. Skin tone diversity aside, this is not a proud moment in human communications.
I have made a career out of communicating with people. Effective verbal, written, aural, and visual communication have at their heart a facility with language and symbols and knowledge of how to use them. Now, I can probably count on one hand the people I’ve known in my life who have never dropped an F-bomb or flipped someone off. Including me. So, why should introducing another way to do it matter?
I’ve always believed that the person who says, “F*** you” first has lost. He’s declared freely and fully that he’s out of ideas. She has no words to counter the argument or action. He went to the lowest possible point on the verbal spectrum and bottomed out. She just quit thinking. Now, it will be even easier to just quit thinking.
Yes, the immediate meaning of “reversed hand with middle finger extended” is clear. Those to whom it is directed will understand it doesn’t mean, “Have a nice day.” But the residual meaning is that we’re out of ideas. We’ve decided to stop the conversation. If you flip the e-bird, you lose. And so do the rest of us.