5 Feelings I Had About Emojis In 2015


I don’t understand emojis, but I think I like them. We just started using Slack, and everyone on the Autostraddle team uses them in such lighthearted and hilarious ways. Could I do that? Do I dare to emoji a peach? On the one hand, this is obviously a very low-stakes decision. But on the other hand, language mediates our entire perception of reality! Words matter. Emojis matter.

I think what I appreciate most about them is their extreme efficiency. “Parsimonious” is my favorite word (if not my actual communication style), and emojis are nothing if not that. A few choice character selections can communicate remarkably complex ideas. You can represent entire people, even! Like, Laneia: custom flaming sword emoji. Gabby: three lightning bolts. Me: …sparkle heart, maybe? Pizza slice? This needs further investigation.



Emojis are amazing. I’ve been emoji-ing everyone I know, and have been utterly delighted by the results. I’m just going to put it out there: women are way better at emojis than men. I believe this is because a) women are better than men at everything, and b) men are given a pass in our culture on such fundamental life skills as emotional awareness and interpersonal communication. Since emojis basically exist to communicate feelings on a more advanced level than straight up text, men tend not to be great at it.

I know it’s not their fault, so I try not to hold men’s emoji deficiencies against them. Some days I’m more successful than others.

One time a man sent me a non-sequitur snake and bug eyes, though? I don’t even know.



“I love emojis,” I babbled at an attractive friend as we walked. “They’re either very clever or entirely inscrutable. Which is how I’d like to be at all times.”

“Oh, that’s totally you! That could be the title of your memoir: The Emoji Woman,” she joked, and I found myself wanting to wrap myself up in her laugh like bedsheets. After I went home, we continued conversing over text. When she started sending me strings of silly emoji, I swooned so hard I almost died. Romance in 2015 is a funny thing.

Weeks later, I was having after-dinner drinks with a couple friends from A-camp. “I love flirty emoji combinations,” said one. “Oh, me too. Like beers clinking and the screw.” “Yep! Or like, the tongue and then the water droplet.”

“Wait, what does that mean?” I puzzled aloud. “I don’t get it.” They stared. I blushed. They waited while I racked my brain. Nothing. Finally, one reached out to pat me on the arm. “Just think about it,” she said pityingly. “You’ll figure it out.”

I did, to my embarrassment, about 10 minutes later. I think if someone sent me that combination of emojis for real, I’d probably melt into a puddle on the floor and stay that way for several weeks. I just couldn’t handle it. But I’m so glad other people can, you know? God bless lesbian emoji power users.



“Often I am permitted to return to a meadow,” he began and I pressed my cheek into his chest. At first I nestled in to feel the soft, low rumble of his baritone, but as the poem went on, I found myself holding the position to conceal the confusion on my face. What’s going on here? I wondered. And, uh, why? When I Googled the poem the following afternoon, the only thing I figured out for certain is that nobody really knows what that poet was going on about. Also: I’m not real crazy about having my vagina compared to a meadow. If that’s even what happened.

Reading someone poetry in bed is basically the same as speaking to them exclusively in emojis. If you’re trying to communicate ideas or hold any form of conversation, you really need to throw in some subjects and verbs. Punctuation! Simple sentences! There can be too much of a good thing, and you’ll know you’ve reached that tipping point when I begin interrupting perfectly good conversations about nachos to DTR or otherwise discuss feelings. Which is never the thing I want to be doing. I would always prefer to be talking about nachos.

I hate emoji blasting.

I believe this exchange was about Estonia and post-breakup haircuts. But I can't really say for sure.


I love emoji blasting.

Do you know what ambiguous digital icons are great for? Being ambiguous! Responding without actually saying anything! Emotionally holding other people at arm’s length, which, as it turns out, is where I like to hold most people!

Emojis are a boss bitch move. Emojis assert dominance. She who emojis first sets the tone of the conversation. She who emojis best controls the course of the interaction that follows. Aggressive emoji use can put the other person on the defensive. A few sharply placed emojis can put the other person on the spot to step up and demonstrate their own skills. Or if you hit the sweet spot with ambiguous emojis, it can cause an immediate crisis of confidence wherein they call their friends in for backup help interpreting your texts.

These are not nice things to do, mind you. But who demands you be nice all the time? Agents of the patriarchy. Fuck that noise. Emojis forever.*

*By which I mean: emojis 2015. Who knows how I’ll be feeling about emojis in two weeks.

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Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


  1. Emojis are too far advanced for my little logical brain. OR maybe just my little phone screen. Anyone else completely unable to distinguish a snake from a saxophone?

      • Y’ALL this is the custom flaming sword emoji that laura herself made for me in slack!! bc i was like why is there no sword in here what’s going on i really need a sword to express my feelings right now and then BAM. a sword was born. laura’s radness knows no bounds.

  2. I’m just commenting in the hope I get an emoji reply that I can take a life lesson from. Emoji tarot. Emoji horoscope. Are those things? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

    • Come to think of it, that’s basically what the alethiometer in the Golden Compass was: a fortune-telling emoji machine!

      (Gosh I love that kid’s movie)

      • I WAS JUST THINKING THAT THE OTHER DAY!! And I didn’t include it in this article because I thought it was too obscure a reference and nobody would understand me.

        I should never have doubted. @queergirl you are perfect.

  3. I love all those complicated emoji stories. It’s like playing a game of Mysterium. What is that ghost trying to tell me? I’m not sure! Um. Volcano, snowflake, plane, statue of liberty – Hell will freeze over before I move to New York City! Heartbreak, haircut, loving cat, city sunset, two girls holding hands – Aw, you’re making me sad, okay, I’ll get an alternative lifestyle haircut, we’ll get a cat, move to your city instead, and get married. Is that it?

    • Oh goodness. I strongly prefer your version to real life! It’s so romantic! Let’s go with that.

  4. I like communicating in .gif best (I have an ongoing FB chat with two best humans and two of us once left an entire weekend’s worth of suggestive .gifs for a friend off on love island with his boo), but emojis tickle the rebus-loving kid I was.

  5. I don’t fucking get emojis. I don’t understand them. I can’t parse them. I think they’re really silly and dumb and inefficient means to communicate because we have WORDS. I am firmly anti-emoji. I’m the old entity yelling for you kids to get off my lawn, except my lawn is the realm of text language.

    But like also, you do you. If you wanna communicate solely with emojis amongst yourself, feel free. Keep me out of anything more than :) :( ;) and :P, please, for the love of my brain.

    • Thank you, Hollis! I wholeheartedly agree with all of your words. I’m also super excited that you are a young person, as I assumed I reached some tipping point age where I’m going to grow increasingly more out of touch with the kids these days.

  6. When my girlfriend and I were starting to date, one particular text she sent me really made me flustered and I didn’t know how to respond… so I just sent a DOLPHIN emoji! It confused her greatly

  7. Laura, as a fellow STEM person, I have an awesome emoji app to recommend. It’s free and it’s called Chemoji. Chemistry + emoji. It’s perfect if ever you want to text your lab mate a smiley wearing PPE (or feel the need to exclaim “OMg!” as oxygen and magnesium…).

  8. Somehow the emoji selection on my phone manages to be really racist, though. There are three nonwhite emojis and they’re all depicted a bit stereotypically. I think that may have biased me against them.

    But who knows, one day I may embrace them. I certainly like this article.

  9. I LOVED emojis in my teens when MSN was a thing! But recently, I have realised that my emoji-competence reeeeeally hasn’t moved on since then, and that I may never find a modern emoji that conveys my old favourite :s….

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