“I was raised to believe real men don’t show their emojis,” Montrealer Kenneth Bouchard says, as he combs his arm hair into a pattern he describes as windswept. “As it is I rarely even ‘like’ something on Facebook, for fear I’ll give away that a heart yet beats in this burly chest. Usually I just scroll through everything, get weirdly up-to-date, but never reveal my true feelings. This week, that all changed.”
Bouchard says that an onslaught of photos from Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma, doom and gloom out of the Korean peninsula, the cold reality that Donald Trump is less than one-sixth of the way through his presidency, and then his mother informing him that Ruffles, her cat of nineteen years, would need to be put down, all coalesced into a perfect storm of sad news that resulted in his slowly rolling past the thumb, the heart, the laughter, and the wow emojis, to select the crying face as most indicative of his mood regarding Ruffle’s demise.
“And now I can’t stop,” Kenneth says quietly, as he sad-faces a post from a friend about their kids going off to school. “They grow up so fast.”
Another poor showing from the Blue Jays receives the single-tear depiction, as does an article about the renewed strength of the loonie (Ken says he worries about the effect this will have on Canadian exports).
Kenneth is not alone in recently discovering an affinity for Facebook’s simple pictorialization of the human condition. Metrics released by the social media giant indicate that use of the crying face has experienced steady week-on-week growth over the last seven and half months, with an initial spike occurring on the 19th of January of this year.
As world news has found ever new and novel ways to spiral into darker terrain, many social media users have expressed their desire to more overtly display the nature of their unhappiness. It is rumoured that the next face to be introduced by Facebook will be the ‘ugly-sob’ – an emoji whose upper-lip perpetually curls in a complete abandonment of self-composure to the deluge of unhappy tidings.
Back in his apartment, Bouchard pauses in his Facebook scroll-through to take in a memory his sister has shared of a quiche she made four years ago. He looks out the window for a while, then nods once and again selects the sad face. “It was horrible,” he mutters, before carrying on through his newsfeed, a path of yellow-tinged sorrow trailing in his wake.