When someone posts about a somber event on social media, the only thing that eases the pain is seeing a broken heart emoji in the comments. Because, if you’re a self-righteous bitch like me, your overwhelming sense of judgment and condemnation momentarily trumps the sadness.
In the past, we had time to craft personal, heartfelt sympathy cards to loved ones who suffered a loss. In 2016, we live in a global community where life’s most important events – both tragic and wonderful – are shared through social media, email, and text. We find out about engagements, births, marital problems, diagnoses, children’s ER visits, and even death right from our phones. As a result, we often find ourselves with the daunting, time-sensitive task of reacting to news before it finds itself lost in our newsfeed. In our haste and sympathy, we fear we won’t properly articulate our thoughts, and, like the mom who’s so stressed about whipping up an organic, vegan meal that she ultimately decides to cook her kids mac and cheese, the pressure makes us give up all together and send an emoji.
Before clicking, we need to ask ourselves, in what way is a yellow frowny face with a single, giant tear dripping from its eye an appropriate response to tragic news? Do we assume that an adorable image is the comfort and support anyone is seeking? Have we convincing ourselves that a stock image can truly capture our sentiments and relay them accurately to a grieving friend? We shouldn’t. There’s a reason there are no emoji sympathy cards.* They are a bit tasteless.
This is not to say emojis don’t have their place. I have had entire text conversations with my girlfriends that are 90% emoji. My husband and I have even been known to text each other the most random emojis we can find (he is partial to the tempura shrimp), just to show we are thinking of one another. And bored. Probably very bored. The point is, emojis are for casual texts and comments only.
That’s all well and good for the celebratory cocktail emojis, but you may be wondering – if they are indeed offensive – why there are emoji options that are clearly for tough times. It’s because they are for your everyday faux tough times. A praying hands emoji is a perfect reply to a friend asking if you can get a sitter for drinks this Friday, but not an appropriate response to finding out that her grandmother just passed away. Furthermore, a broken heart is a quick, handy reply when your friend posts a picture of an empty wine fridge. Or a shattered wine glass. Or an empty wine bottle. Or…well, you get the idea. It’s best, however, to keep that fractured heart emoji to yourself when she texts you about her husband’s affair.
Sometimes, there truly are no words. This does not mean there should be emojis. In fact, if a tragedy occurs that renders you speechless and bereft, it probably means that you should, under no circumstances, be letting your finger anywhere near an emoji icon. I get it. Tragic news is difficult to share and painful to hear. Coming up with the right words can seem like a formidable task, but now, with this handy list, it’s one you don’t have to tackle. The next time you read some unfortunate news and your thumb is inching toward an emoji, use one of these wordy phrases instead.
- Sometimes there are no words. I’m so sorry.
- Please know that I am thinking of you.
- I love you.
- I can’t imagine what you are going through.
- I’m here for you.
- Sending you love/prayers/positive thoughts. Don’t use slashes. Choose one, or use more and make use of commas and that handy word “and.” Use of an Oxford comma I hereby leave to your own discretion.
Now you are prepared for the next crisis! Just don’t be so eager to use one of these bad boys that you wish any ill will upon anyone. If you do, I’ll have to throw a devil emoji your way.
*Editor’s Note: At least, I really hope there aren’t. I was too afraid to Google it.