Texting Taboos: 5 Things We Don’t Even Text About
by Gemma Brand-Wolf
In our tech-centered, text-talkin’ world, the emojis we use in our “conversations” are worth a thousand words, especially when that’s precisely what they’re used to avoid.
50% of the population has one, right? So why are tampons taxed as a luxury item in many countries? Why can’t people talk about their “private parts”? The human species itself would not progress without the tireless work of the vagina (I mean, it cleans itself like a CAT. That’s more than we can say for eggplants!). Without the vagina, not only would everyone be totally sad, our population would be nonexistent. Why isn’t there a vagina emoji with which to discuss this V-ital part of our bodies? We don’t even have an innuendo-rich vegetable!
2. Mental Health
We all know the common texting dialect of abbreviations, including stellar examples such as “cray-cray” and “bat-shit.” But there is no emoji that captures the real-life experiences of those who are faced with legitimate mental health problems. Maybe this is because it is impossible to sum up something so expansively life-changing. Mental health is so important and varies infinitely day by day, person by person. Not talking (or texting) about it makes it seem scary, unknown, and different, setting up divisions between those in our community that should not be overlooked based on mental health concerns.
Acronyms all around, but no emojis? This goes for L, G, B, T, and Q. Until the summer of 2015, gay marriage was not legal in the US (supposed “land of the free”). Until that same summer, Apple’s emoji archive did not include any same-sex representation. The emojis that did (and do) exist, enforced the binaries of heteronormativity and suggested that, not only should we not talk about the LGBTQ community, they may as well not exist.
Also in 2015, Apple introduced a diversified set of people and faces in response the previous absence of any diversity in the emoji society. I’ve always used the yellow (sickly?) emojis in an effort to be all-inclusive. But many i-tech users have chosen to select one of the only five racial “categories,” as defined by Apple. The creation of these categories, and the strange obligatory pressure to choose one, encourages the racist binaries that are already much too prevalent in our real-people society.
Apple recently added 10 new emojis to a growing list that will be available to iOS 10 downloaders in the fall. While many of these emojis include a level of diversity that makes a valiant attempt at inclusivity, one of the new changes will replace the pistol icon with a water gun. Sure, this is super cute, but what is the reason for this seemingly harmless adjustment? In the face of recent events, including the rise of Donald Trump and increasing racial unrest, does the new water gun emoji represent thoughtfulness or does it place a taboo on gun violence?