The Oxford Dictionaries recently announced their “word of the year,” and it’s not a word at all, but rather one of the hundreds of telephonic pictographs we use on our phones known as an “emoji.” The reasoning the company gave for using a picture rather than a word is they partnered with the mobile technology company SwiftKey to measure keystrokes of users around the world, and this particular emoji, “Face with Tears of Joy,” was the most popular one used on this planet we call Earth. They go on to say the emoji is a universal symbol rather than one specific to a particular country or culture, so its global appeal was also one of the reasons it was chosen.
Given all that has happened this year in our own community, country and across the globe, if this keystroke quantity is to be trusted (though I have one friend who may be responsible for a quarter of this count), it restores my faith in humanity that we can all see the joy in life through the sorrow. Or maybe we just know in the immortal words of one famous native son, “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”
But I imagine these emojis ranked up there pretty high this year as well …
After seemingly one mass shooting after another in our own country, from Charleston to Chattanooga to Oregon and Lafayette, and watching a young news reporter and her cameraman get gunned down on live television in Virginia, sadness, hopelessness, helplessness and a deep feeling of despair set in.
What can we do about this? What are the answers? Can’t we make this stop, somehow, some way?
And then seeing atrocious acts committed against people in foreign lands by their own “leaders,” or a mentally ill pilot intentionally crash a jet full of innocent people into the mountains or one falling out of the sky because of a bomb, it is almost too much to take. And most recently the bloodshed in Paris. As the French president put it, we watched the attackers target “youth in all its diversity.”
It really breaks my heart our children and our youth have to grow up in this kind of world. Did our parents ever feel that way? Maybe they did; maybe they feared something else entirely for us, but if they did, I didn’t realize it. I felt cloaked in optimism, like I would grow up and be able to change things for the better. But that feeling is slowly going away. And I wonder if our children will ever feel that way.
Knowing one day all of the aforementioned things that sadden us could happen in our own backyard or to one of our loved ones is absolutely terrifying. But we can’t live in fear or act on it in an irrational manner. Or they win. And we don’t like to lose.
But I do know I want to hold onto my loved ones just a little bit longer every morning as we walk out the door and all go our separate ways. And maybe, in a strange way, that’s another win for us, too.
People are constantly outraged over everything these days. Some folks are constantly enraged at the current government or the past government; some people are mad at said people who are constantly pissed at said governments. People are upset about perceived injustices of every type from the simplest of simple to the most complex: refugee relocation, racism, ageism, ableism, the media, shampoo that makes your hair fall out, red cups at international coffee chains, the McRib, friends who are constantly trying to sell them things through Facebook, or who are insensitive to their kid’s gluten intolerance or peanut allergy, or if someone named Glenn is really dead on some show.
Kids on college campuses across the country aren’t just outraged, but they are also outraged about when, where and how they are allowed to be outraged.
I’m not saying some of this is not warranted, but our level of outrage over everything is just, well, outrageous.
Everyone is shouting but no one is listening. There is shouting about the shouting. And then more shouting about the people who are shouting about the shouting. It’s all just becoming background noise, where I just want to put my hands on my eyes and ears and rock back and forth in the corner of a room, shirtless, crouched in the fetal position and scream, “Shuuuuuuuuttttt uuuuuppppp.”
(Was that an R.E.M. video? If not, it seems like it should have been.)
I don’t really know why there is a poo poo emoji or why the little poo poo is so happy or what context you would ever need to use it in, but I think we can all agree it’s just awesome. And it makes me smile and that’s great, because “if we couldn’t laugh, we would just all go insane ….”