Yeah, I was wrong. 😐 Emojis now play a vital role in courtship, news alerts, and NBA free agency, and they’re only going to get more popular because they are cute and easy—just like you! Indeed, they are the perfect communication method for Americans under 30, a group of people who are as lazy as they are whimsical.
But what if you’re not under 30? What if you’re a grown-ass man like me? Do you want to communicate efficiently with friends, or family, or people you would like to fuck? If so, you’d better have some quality emoji game or you will die 😟. The challenge here is to preserve your aura of worldly sophistication without turning into one of those old dudes who creep everyone out by fumbling young-people stuff. Some rules…
1. One emoji per emoji, please.
My kid sends me text messages that are just whole blocks of randomly selected emojis. This is a very cute thing to get from an 11-year-old—but from a grown man, it looks like a serial-killer cryptogram. Use one emoji per text, unless you feel like repeating the same one a few times at the end of a message for added emphasis. That alerts people that your texts are straight 🔥🔥🔥.
2. Do not intersperse emojis with words.
This is not Classic Concentration. I’m not trying to solve a fucking puzzle here. If you need to relay a lot of info to me in a text, just skip out on capitalization and proper spelling like a normal person.
3. Ninety percent of your emoji use should be pro forma replies to stuff.
Hey, your friend just got promoted! That deserves a very tiny champagne-bottle emoji sent his way. Really lets him know you care.
4. Do not send a sincere 🍆.
You’re dying to get laid, but you can’t just SAY you wanna get laid, or else you won’t get laid. Well, thank God for the eggplant emoji. That’s the penis emoji, which is useful if you want to make a joke about getting laid as a SERIOUS way of trying to get laid. “We’re going to Chili’s? We may as well skip right to 🍆 after that!” But do NOT use up your eggplant credit on dead-serious propositioning. That will end with a restraining order. Same goes for the 🍑. You must always be subtle when texting about butts.
5. Smileys are still lame as shit.
Smileys are for people who hang pictures of cats in their cubicle. If you absolutely must use them, be sure to slather them in 900 layers of bulletproof irony like the rest of the Internet, like so: “Oh, I see Trump approved whippings today. 😀”
6. Don’t use that goddamn thinking-guy one.
I hate that emoji. Oh, did somebody just do something suspicious or shady? SPIT IT OUT. Don’t trot out the HMMMMM guy and pretend that’s a courageous move.
7. If you spend any time searching for the perfect emoji, you’ve already screwed this up.
I know I’ve sat there for entire minutes, scouring each little screen for some new, rarely used emoji to WIN whatever stupid exchange I’m having. Then I remember, “What am I doing?” and I fall back on the classics. There’s a reason no one uses the barber pole.
8. If you’re a white guy and you’re using the 💯, you’d better have a very good reason.
9. The 👍 is a good way to halt any endless exchange.
We all have a family member (Mom) who believes a text exchange is a perpetual-motion thread that must never be disrupted or else one of the participants will drift away and die, like Leo at the end of Titanic. The best way to stop this text diarrhea: a simple 👍. That tells Mom you’re all good and that she needs to go find one of your siblings to harass with updates about what Congress just did.
10. Unless you’re on Tinder, do not send emojis to random people, service professionals, or anyone whose full name is not stored in your phone.
For instance: your Uber driver, your doctor, or the lady who just interviewed you for a job. It’s weird. Emoji has a strange and delicate intimacy; it works when you’re trying to woo a lady, but not when you’re complaining to Verizon tech support. Keep that in your holster, kiddo.
11. The only emoji you really need is the 💩.
So pithy, so versatile, yet so friendly!
Drew Magary is a GQ correspondent.