Case study in social-emotional agnosia*

Happy tears emojiI’ve been trying to come up with a worthy New Year’s resolution to share with all of you but I’ve been stumped. Having to satisfy an audience of eager readers can be stressful and exhausting. So I figured I’d put the resolution off for just a bit longer. Something more important has come up.

I’m realizing I’ve been so selfish and self-absorbed since I’ve been diagnosed with leukemia. It’s all about me all the time now, and I imagine you’re getting sick of it. I feel so grossly out of touch with others’ feelings that I figured it was time to address that. I am a psychologist after all. So address it I did. Ten days ago. At the mall.

Yes, I’d become so frustrated with the emotional gap between us that I purchased a new cellphone. Finally, I can interpret your emojis, which previously arrived to my ailing phone as little black squares. Initially, upon receiving a [insert happy face/sad face/clown face emoji here], I’d ask the person to translate her unknown emoji into words, or at least to confirm she hadn’t just sent me one of those disgusting stinky poops. Over time, some people remembered that I was cellphone impaired and stopped sending me emojis altogether, others followed up their emojis with a verbal description, but most forgot altogether and continued to send me their indecipherable expressions of their deepest feelings.

As my staunchest word-loving friends jumped on the emoji bandwagon, and even started spelling you “u” and to “2”, I knew the abyss between us was ever widening. And then the ultimate happened: in 2015, Oxford Dictionaries named the face-with-tears-of-joy emoji the word of the year. Once the dictionary started equating emojis with words, I knew I was fighting a losing battle.

So I gave up and, thanks to a generous birthday gift from an unnamed maternal source, I bought myself a top-of-the-line emotionally sensitive cellphone. I even bought a protective case for it so it wouldn’t cry when I dropped it, which would be inevitable given my inherent clumsiness.

I must say texting is much more fulfilling since my purchase. I already feel more in touch with your emotional state as I understand your texts in all their nuanced yellow-faced expressiveness. Sometimes I have to look up the meaning of your emojis because this is a new language to me, but in time, I’ll attain emoji literacy. I’ve also been inserting random emojis into my texts just because I can. This makes me so [insert face-with-tears-of-joy emoji here]. Funny, though, I can’t seem to locate the stinky poop emoji anywhere. Maybe that’s best for all concerned.

P.S. While the rest of you are nursing hangovers on January 1, I’ll be posting my heretofore secret 2017 resolution. I want to save my revelation until after the New Year so no one will usurp my idea, intellectual property rights and all. Expect my disclosure to be anticlimactic after such a drawn-out lead in.

In the meantime, feel free to share your resolutions by commenting on this post. You’re probably more open than I am (not just because your cellphone is emoji friendly), and your insights may well inspire others.


*Look up agnosia. I had to.


4 thoughts on “Case study in social-emotional agnosia*

  1. Please don’t send emojis to me on my phone. I am also only receiving little black squares. I just pretend I know what’s there – then I can believe whatever I want to believe, right? Works for me.


  2. My New Years resolution is to be more selfish… doesn’t have to mean I’m a ๐Ÿ’ฉ hehehhe I couldn’t resist. Happy new year Annie


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