My day was going well – oh so well – until a colleague sent me a link.
Like the cheerful and competent person I am, I opened it.
“Our findings provide first-time evidence that, contrary to actual smiles, smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence.”
Wait, wait, wait… wah?!
“In formal business emails, a smiley is not a smile.”
That, dear friends, is what scientists from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University wrote in a statement last week. A statement that condemned any use of tone in work emails and has therefore changed my professional life forevermore.
You see I, Michelle Andrews, am the most prolific user of emojis in the Mamamia office. And without being hyperbolic, probably the whole world.
Why do I sprinkle every online interaction with love hearts and kisses? Because I want to be NICE. I like to make FRIENDS. Also, talking about key performance indicators, time in lieu, the intricacies of HTML and who's on office kitchen duty next month is utterly boring.
So, obviously, the study published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal has sought to blacken my life and suck everything I love into a greyish beige hole. To deprive myself and fellow emoji-lovers of our beloved "have a good day! xxxxx" sign offs to nothing more than "sincerely", "regards" and "much appreciated".
How rude of them.
"We found that the perceptions of low competence if a smiley is included in turn undermined information sharing.
"... For now, at least, a smiley can only replace a smile when you already know the other person. In initial interactions, it is better to avoid using smileys, regardless of age or gender.”
In normal person language, they mean, 'When you used heart-eyes emojis you sound really, really dumb. Like, REALLY dumb. Especially if you're speaking to this person for the first time.'
Well NO, research team that observed the emailing behaviours of 549 participants from 29 countries - no. I am not Ofglen from The Handmaid's Tale. I refuse to bend to these ridiculously tight standards.
This is 2017. I am liberated. And if iPhone keyboards are going to offer me rainbow, puppy, and avocado emojis, I'm going to use all three in a completely unrelated context, goddamn it. I will use them with reckless abandon, even if that prescribes me to a life of career stagnancy and misfortune.
I will not be giving up emojis or kisses. Not now, not ever.