So, the #hip and #cool heads over at The New York Times' new "Men's Style" section whipped up a tasty op-ed about whether or not grown ass men should use emoji and if I had to sum up the takeaways, they'd go as follows:
1. Moderation, as always, is key.
2. Drake made emoji cool for dudes by getting a prayer hands tattoo.
3. Using the tongue out, wink face emoji immediately flags you as a creeper.
None of these are particularly hot and/or problematic takes (especially the Drizzy one), but I for one believe that we, said grown ass men, definitely should use emoji.
As dudes, we are constantly subjected to the tyranny of masculinity. That's right, ya boy is about to go full turbo Judith Butler on the thinkpiece right off the bat. According to The Times, women use more emoji, ergo some might assume that emoji use makes you more feminine. How fucked up is that? Masculinity is so fragile that using emoji might be perceived—by your fellow dudes, at the very least—as "bitch made," "pussy," "sus," or whatever other slanderously gendered term du jour they prefer. It's just Unicode, bruh. It's not that serious. Using emoji, in a way, then becomes a subtle way of rebelling against the fragile and toxic masculinity that plagues everyday existence. So, if you're feeling yourself and your look, go ahead and drop the one-two punch nail polish and sparkle emoji in your Instagram caption. Fuck 'em and if they hate then let 'em hate and watch the Klout perks pile up.
This goes back to the idea of emotion being an exclusively feminine ting. After all, there is no prerendered shrug emoji, no barbell emoji. There are some emoji that are "manlier" than others *barfs* (the flexing bicep and flame for example), but women don't seem to be afraid of using these sweaty, burly emoji, so there's literally no reason to shy away from using any of the dozen different colored hearts. There should be no shame in being an emotional dude in 2015. Get in touch with your sensitive side and convey something beyond a guttural, primitive grunt.
If you've been using emoji freely, carry on. If you haven't, Drake uses them.
Sometimes emoji do the job when words could never suffice—there's a mouthless face, if you're ever speechless or before your crude gray matter has even started to formulate words. Sometimes you just wanna hit a person back with a brief, but choice response that doesn't quite warrant a full-blown conversation because those are the worst. I've replied to countless texts the morning after a function with the skull and gun emoji before I was even fully conscious. As ridiculous as it sounds, it's levels to this texting shit. Most of the reaction to this thinkpiece will probably be divided between the fire flame and the garbage emoji. And I'm okay with that.
But don't get it twisted, texting is still the medium. Emoji are only an enhancement for actual words. One of The Times' sources, a Ms. Melissa Karlin said, "Use your words. I'm a big fan of using your words." And I'm with Melissa on this particular point. If you count yourself among the "grown ass men" category, you should be more than able to communicate yourself via good, ol' fashioned language. A flexed arm is only meaningful because it's linguistically tied with the abstract idea of flexing. Instead of a substitute, use emoji to enhance and amplify your words. Imagine if I had dropped multiple emoji in every paragraph of this thinkpiece, for example, to convey tone. The only reason I didn't is because The Pinz cannot support the very keyboard its overlords love to use so much.
To be completely honest, I think The Times might've been jumping the proverbial gun a little bit on this one. Most of the grown men I'm in contact with are fluent in emoji and none are particularly skressin' over it. If you've been using emoji freely, carry on. If you haven't, Drake uses them. And he made you start calling your friends your "woes," so you'll probably end up co-opting yet another behavior from The Boy™ anyway. You know how that shit go [insert 36 blushing, smiley emoji here].
Ben Roazen is the only Complex intern who's not a complete fucking moron. Follow him on Twitter here.