Don't let your emojis give away your age
Think that 'thumbs up' is delightfully modern? You're really making an old fool of yourself. Bill Linnane reveals the 'oldies' texting traps to steer clear of
Back in 2012, Rebekah Brooks revealed that while she was chief executive of News International David Cameron used to text her a couple of times a week, often signing off with 'lol'. Brooks eventually had to explain to the then prime minister that lol did not in fact mean what he thought it meant - 'lots of love' - but rather 'laughing out loud'. Cameron was left looking gloriously out of touch with rapidly evolving modes of communication.
Fast forward six years and everyone and their gran knows what lol means, but there is another language to make us all feel a bit out of touch - emojis.
According to research by YouTube published last week, almost three quarters of adults are dependent on emojis to communicate with one another.
It's hardly surprising that in the international shouting match of the internet, boundaryless cartoon hieroglyphics have taken over from actual words, but there is nuance to their use. Here we attempt to unpick the immortal question - is an aubergine always just an aubergine?
A great shorthand for okay, or just to express your positivity and joie de vivre. A mighty cheerful yawp amidst the educated cynicism of millennials and perpetual embarrassment of teenagers, the thumbs up is a great way to show the world that you get emojis.
What it really means: That you don't really get emojis. The 'thumbs up' operates on a spectrum of meaning, from a sardonic 'I will yeah' , AKA 'no', to an ironic 'terrific', AKA 'ugh I guess'. If say your teenage child asks for a lift to town, you don't reply with the thumbs up as a simple 'ok' or even 'k' would suffice. The thumbs up has more weight than that and is more about an air of general disappointment than a celebration of positive energies.
What a fun emoji! Look at that cheerful little face and its cheeky wink, it's the ideal accent on that message to your spouse telling them not to use the bathroom for 15 or 20 minutes, or on a message to your boss telling them you're sick and won't be in today.
What it really means: You have no understanding of context. The wink isn't a tapping of the digital nose, as most discourse on the internet operates on considerably more than one level already. You don't need to imply a secondary meaning because emojis already do that, so your wink may seem like a bit of flirty, witty fun, but in reality it often just makes you look like someone who should be on a register somewhere.
Ah, the beautiful eggplant, with its bulbous purple form, shining and resplendent. Surely this is the perfect emoji to tell a loved one that you are having ratatouille for dinner?
What it really means: Penis. It means penis. Of course that's what it means, everyone hates actual aubergines. No human ever willingly eats their springy flesh, it's like eating a mattress, which is why it needs to be tenderised with a kilo of salt before it can be consumed. So the next time you are telling your mother-in-law you loved her moussaka and how you love when she goes Greek, perhaps just use actual words rather than six aubergine emojis and a load of love hearts.
Everyone loves an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, where you load up on shrimp to get the best value for money. Why not send out a tweet with a load of fried shrimps on the end of it to share your joy?
What it really means: It means small penis, and your misuse of this particular emoji might explain why it's always a table for one at the buffet.
Ah, the noble peach, fuzzy and succulent with its distinctive crease. How could anyone be so depraved as to interpret this as anything other than one of nature's most wonderful assets?
What it really means: It probably won't come as a surprise to you to discover that the peach emoji represents the human bottom. Nobody in Ireland eats peaches anyway as they are always either unripened and feel like a sliotar or are overripe, like a mushy snowball with a rock inside.
Pointing hand and okay symbols
One gives directions, the other confirms that the directions are in fact correct. Finally emojis are doing some actual work, helping us to get about the place with directions that transcend language. What a time to be alive.
What it really means: Sex. You may think you sent a co-worker a message about the location of the free biscuits in work, when actually you were sexually harassing a 64-year-old line manager. And to think he only had two days to retirement.
The cheerful little turd is an emoji that needs no introduction, nor does it really need an explanation - it is a poo, and if you need instructions on how to use it, you should probably stay away from emojis for the rest of your days.
What it really means: That you are Irish. Last year, the website HighSpeedInternet.com conducted a survey of favourite emojis by nation. The UK was the crying laughing one - presumably something to do with Brexit - while Canada and New Zealand both favoured love hearts, another vote of confidence for the health benefits of maple syrup and manuka honey.
In Ireland, however, the number one emoji was the 'number two' emoji.
It is the catch-all response to almost any question here - how was the weather, how was the pitch, how did the interview go, what was work like, what are you doing in there, how did the exams go, what's that on your shoe, did you remember to buy milk?
The poo emoji is our modern-day shamrock, encapsulating the Irish experience of bemused disappointment, toilet humour and a general sense of 'ah sher feck it anyway'. So while you may want to show your love for Ireland by sticking a Tricolour on every message you send, you might be better shoving a poo on every text instead.