The Subtext of Emoticons

It’s a widely known fact that the more emojis you put in a text message, the madder you actually are. It’s a certain Law of Numbers many are aware of but don’t say out loud. Because really, how can you respond, confront or argue with someone who sends you something like this?


The reality is, if you’ve been on the receiving end of a text that reads


you’re either A. a boyfriend or husband whose forgotten an anniversary or B. a kid that’s failed to call their mom on her birthday. It’s after this sort of a message that you realize while your phone might be safe, IRL (In Real Life), you’re basically fucked.

What’s the point of Emoticon Subtext you ask? Why not just be straightforward with our feelings rather than cover them up with a slew of hearts, smiley faces sporting sunglasses and thumbs up symbols? Often it’s an attempt at seeming like this girl…

When you’re actually this girl…

It’s sort of like when your voice gets high after a friend asks you how it’s going six weeks into a new relationship. A quick-to-the-draw “good” that sounds more Elmo-esque than you’ve ever sounded before means something like: “I’m dying a slow, painful death but I can’t admit it because I called him ‘The One’ four days ago.” Last week you were all like this:

But then for no particular reason at all you’re all like this:

So going into the new year, just remember it may be more important than ever to be open with your feelings, rather than wrap them in a blanket of sassy girl emojis (you know, this girl sassy).

What’s too many emojis? It’s a question of simple mathematics. Going into 2016, we recommend you pay closer attention to your emoji/word ratio. In writing your text message, always remember our 3 to 1 word to emoji ratio rule of thumb, where you stay in what we like to call, The Blue Zone. Below are three healthy examples:


The reverse though, a 1 to 3 word to emoji ratio is when we believe you’ve hit what we like to call the Red Zone:


In your mind, once you’ve entered The Red Zone – a twenty-first century digital age version of The Dark Side in Star Wars – we suggest you put down your phone, take a walk and plan to have a face-to-face conversation.

Just as we try to taper our passive aggressiveness in life, let’s do it in our text messages as well. As a hotheaded potato head myself, I’ll certainly be making an effort to do so, because I’ve learned the hard way that putting ten eggplant-emjoi emojis after “It’s cool,” doesn’t help anyone…or mean anything, for that matter.

– Laura Kosann

Want more stories from Laura? Find out if you suffer from one of these afflictions of binge-watching TV. Struggling with keeping your resolutions? Read this.