Social media is the new village square. It is where we all gather to discuss the latest news (and gossip), developments and stories of things happening around us. Yet, the this digital world is a strange place. For all our interactions and exchanges, most of it is with people who are little more than strangers to us. We do not really know many of those we interact with. We might find out that we do not even recognise ourselves any more.
In the old village square, when you found something funny, you actually laughed. People around you could see and hear you laugh. Now, we reply with LOL without anything more than a smile on our faces. We ROTFL without moving an inch from our upright position where we are seating or standing.
We send the “side eye” emoji without so much as a change in our gaze. We “flee” without getting up from where we are lounging on a couch in front of a television set that we are largely ignoring. A young woman types LMAO in response to something that her boyfriend just sent her. But she isn’t laughing and her ass is not in danger of falling off at all.
We are a generation learning to express without actually expressing. Are we dumbing down our emotions? Are we unlearning how to express our emotions? Or are we just living in dual parallel universes – each different from the other, each running on different principles, each having no effect on the other?
After all, no matter how much we have used emojis in the digital world without a corresponding physical expression on our part, when we do meet up with friends, family and loved ones, we still really, literally laugh out loud, shed tears and flee when appropriate. We are still working on the ROTFL and LMAO bit though. We will get there someday. Here’s to life (and maybe death) by emojis.