Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. – Kurt Vonnegut
Emojis. They have become ingrained in our culture. Love them? Hate them?
I used to find them irritating. They fell into the same sloppy, too lazy to write out your thoughts mindset that afflicts our fast-paced society. Abbreviated word forms also would get under my skin. And still do. I abhor k, thx, and the like although I admit to using acronyms such as FYI and BTW. Other than those, I am one of those ancient-school texters who laboriously pokes out each word letter-by-letter.
Symbols, however, fall into a different category. I find myself using them because of their inner beauty: They say much in a simple graphic, the old maxim that a picture says a thousand words. Or more.
Hand signals, like the thumbs-up, and images of objects from pizza to a beer mug are fun to use. But the emojis with smiles, frowns, and hearts for eyes have wiggled their ways into my texts to the point that I search for the right one to express my feelings because a smiling face with eyes drawn shut suggests something different than a smiling one with bug eyes or a tongue lolling out. Or pursed lips and squinted eyes to express anger or frustration. Grrr!!!
Another great thing about emojis is that they are reminders about not taking stuff too seriously. Parents know full well how their little urchin who has committed some egregious act and is about ready to get it completely disarms them with an antic look that gets them cracking up, or at least ought to. When in the classroom, I had oodles of such scamps.
Now, I learned one’s never too old to be reminded of that.
Recently at a Broncos’ game, two young women who were fans of the opposing team were constantly on their feet occasionally blocking my view. They truly were fun-filled, giving raspberries to us when their team did well and grimacing in mock frustration when the Broncos did. I found myself a mixture of laughter and seething anger.
They were genuinely having fun, unlike those like me who were only having fun when the Broncos played well. I told one in my strongest teacher-voice that she was being rude. In return, she gave me the same rolling eyes and light-hearted laugh my freshman girls had. Apparently, a teacher admonition didn’t work any better at twenty-something than it had at fourteen. Before leaving, she reached out, shook my hand, smiled, and with a twinkle said, “You know, it’s just a football game.”
I’m not sure now if my main point here is about laughter, facial expressions, or taking one’s self too seriously. Perhaps all the above.
I tried to do some quick research about the power of laughter, to find pithy quotes from the great comedians like Red Skelton and satirists like Mark Twain, but the best I found is that introductory one from Kurt Vonnegut who wasn’t known for rollicking, light-hearted humor. Crazily enough, there’s precious little one can learn about the science of laughter from people who made a living making people laugh.
So, I’ve concluded one cannot intellectually explain the disarming power of laughter any more than one can explain a fart. But one knows without reason how they both light up the room. K?