Erica’s 57-year-old father needs the help of his secretary to set up his Word documents, but loves emojis. The rabbi sent his 27-year-old daughter 70 emojis over the course of 18 text messages.
“My dad uses them in every text,” she told the New York Post. “ ’I’m going to a funeral now, [:Monkey_Face: :Camel: :Dog:]!’ ”
With an aging population, and an accelerated technological culture, it’s only natural that older folks would begin trying to speak emoji. After all, there will be about 72.1 million older persons by 2030. That’s more than twice what there was in 2000, when the Internet only had 361 million users (which is barely two-thirds the size of Facebook today). Now, there are five times as many Internet users, many of whom are elderly.
The problem, though, is that like anyone learning a new technology or language, there are missteps and stumbles, much to the agony of older people’s millennial progeny.
Alex — a 30-year-old writer who, like the others interviewed by the Post, did not want her last name published — received a “jarring” choice of emoji from her mother. After her grandmother was rushed to the hospital, Alex’s mother tried to explain the difference between heart attack, and heart failure via emoji.
“I imagined her scrolling through the hearts, choosing the best color for ‘heart failure’ and then a different color for ‘heart attack,'” Alex told the Post. “She’s in the honeymoon phase of her relationship with emojis.”
According to experts, this is just how the arc of technology usually goes. Digital natives, like Gen-Xers or Millennials, are the first to get the hang of a new technology, and older people need a little bit more time to catch up, digital lifestyle expert David Ryan Polgar explained. Parental emoji abuse is like how parents send Minion memes and write letters to each other in Facebook comments, or like how they’d forward a dozen chain e-mails back when they’d first gotten the Internet.
In other words, it was only a matter of time before your mom decided to text you a smiling poo ideogram.
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