or the uninitiated “lol” either refers to “laugh out loud” or “lots of love”, depending on which side of the fence you sit. (I sit on neither side as I cannot abide the acronym and am pleased to announce it is not part of my vocabulary and never will be, apart from the purposes of this blog).
You see, as a writer, I tend to use proper words and always get excited when I discover a new one. It’s like an addiction; some people cannot wait for the next episode of Homeland, I can’t wait for the next word to learn. Some people may think that’s quite sad but having only been able to digest one season of Homeland I prefer a good read to a riot.
So, imagine my upset when the Oxford Dictionary announced this year’s Word of the Year. Surely “Brexit” has to be in there? Maybe “lumbersexual” or even “refugee”? Sadly, although they were all in the shortlist the “word” wasn’t a word at all but an emoji. In fact, to give it its proper name (if an emoji can have one) it’s the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good emoji. Many of my WhatsApp messages are flooded with them, usually to illustrate my sarcasm at my mates asking me how my week is going but we won’t go into that. OK, happy smiling faces usually, along with the odd beer glass and thumbs up. I have even used them on my social media platforms but I refrain from populating press releases and blogs with them, apart from this one, obviously.
I can only imagine the horror etched across the faces of former colleagues when they found out an emoji had replaced the written word. As a profession, journalists and PR types love the written word and replacing it with icons is frankly seen by some as just plain lazy.
It begs the question whether words are really being replaced by icons. Of course, it won’t happen. Could you really imagine reading The Guardian and the Autumn Statement text is replaced by a series of pound sterling signs, No Entry icons and that funny brown one which is actually meant to be chocolate ice-cream? Actually, it might make the whole of the Chancellor’s speech make more sense.
But, like lol, it seems they are here to stay, so embrace the emoji.
And they do have their uses. Like with most things (except lol) I am willing to give emojis a second chance. Here’s why…
At the end of last season BBC Sport conducted a poll using emojis to represent the season according to a Premier League fan with each club represented. Supporting this blue side of the Mersey, I found this quite a tricky one seeing as we were struggling during the majority of 2014/15 but I gave it a go. The next day I did my usual check of the Beeb’s sporting section and there it was, my tweet, in full technicolour. Cue smiley icon.
Did I mention my love for emojis? Sometimes, they even make me lol. Sorry.