You’d think with a picture there could be no confusion, right? An emoji is an emoji, right? Uh, no. Just like words are symbols an emoji is a symbol and despite what people think, these are not language-free methods of communications because culture forms from language and vice versa, so the variations in language also describe the variations in people.
In the first group of emoji’s to exist, the creators included the cherry blossom emoji that still exists, albeit in a much fancier form. I have a lot of readers in Boston. If one sister sent another sister a cherry blossom, someone from Boston would think one sister sent the other flowers at work. Awww.
If say, a Japanese boy sees his younger sister get a message from his older sister that included a cherry blossom; and because in Japan it represents the fragility of beauty and short life, he might take the context they’re all in and conclude that their older sister has just learned that their father’s cancer is indeed terminal.
If a Chinese schoolmate saw one of the two Chinese sisters she hangs around with and sister-one sent sister-two a cherry blossom, then the schoolmate may rightfully conclude from this symbol of female empowerment, freedom and sexuality that their friend did lose her virginity that weekend.
Not every Chinese or Japanese person would even do those things, and some non-Asians would if they lived there for long enough. Societies are big things filled with many small things.
From awww to death to sex?! Using one simple picture?! So, no; emojis are not universal communication systems. The only thing in the universe like that is love. Everything else is a lie in the big spiritual sense. It’s all an illusion created by our interpretations of things like light, which might be formed into an emoji that might lead us to feel happy, sad or excited, but all of that would have been created with love. Everything else is language. Everything.
The most interesting parts of any culture is not the food, dances and clothing, it’s the way they see. It’s the vision that the food, dances and clothing came from. Some divide the world into male and female, some have words that are built around geography, others have words built around vegetation, or navigation. We’re all different.
We’re all interpretation machines. Giving us the same input we’ll all still come up with our own versions of the truth. And that larger truth, is the important truth to seek. There is no objectivity. Surrender. Begin accepting others realities as being as valid as your own and your life will improve.
Oh and don’t forget; all of this all applies to other people’s views of them and theirs of you too. 😉
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.