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Real men don't emoji

审校:卷毛凯瑟琳   作者:MATTE HABER   学习指数: ★★★★★

"The limits of my language are the limits of my world." ——Ludwig Wittgenstein

real man shouldn't emoji

The cute little images make some men – and the women who receive their texts – uncomfortable.

Right now, it's likely that someone you know is texting a thumbs-up image to confirm a meeting or maybe sending off a friendly ghost emoji to a friend.

And it's likely that the texter is a woman.

Men aren't comfortable with emoji. Women embrace them, but given their resemblance to the stickers that adorn the notebooks of schoolgirls, not to mention their widespread adoption as the lingua franca of tweens and teens everywhere, emoji strike terror in hearts of many a man.

"Women tend to be more overtly expressive in language," said John McWhorter, a linguist who teaches at Columbia University.

He would like to see men face their emoji fears head on — or, thumbs on, as the case may be. Emoji, he said, allow for an expressive, human way of translating the spoken word into text, with the goofy symbols providing a texter or tweeter with the means to convey tone.

"There should be male ways to use emoji," he added.

That being said, McWhorter, 49, does not use emoji himself, citing his age. But he is an admirer. "I'm not known as the most progressive person in the world, but in some ways I like them," he said. "I'm a big fan."

Other experts — that is, people who actually use emoji — are less definitive. "It's a fine line," said Melissa Karlin, 35, a Chicago-based accounts manager for Kenshoo, a software company. "Emoji-ing is a dance."

She noted that some men use emoji in ways she finds inscrutable, particularly in the context of romance, when they are given to texting the symbol of the winky face with the tongue sticking out. "I don't know what it means," she said.

She offered a piece of advice for potential suitors: "Use your words. I'm a big fan of using your words."

And yet many men find themselves grasping for emoji where words either fail them or come up short. Tennis star Roger Federer sprinkles his tweets with them, and pro basketball player Mike Scott has several emoji tattoos, including the pair of dancing girls with bunny ears. The rapper Drake blew up the Internet last fall when a photograph of a praying-hands emoji tattoo, inked onto his right forearm, surfaced on Instagram.

Other men embrace the emoji while holding them at a remove. Gil Schwartz, a CBS executive who writes under the name Stanley Bing, called himself a "rare user of ironic emojis." He said he is partial to the pig and the horse. "I use them because I think they're stupid," he said. "At some point, texting is kind of stupid."

He has no fear that using them may somehow put a dent in his masculinity. "For a moment you're Taylor Swift," said Schwartz, who is 63. "If you're confident in your manhood, you can certainly lapse into Taylor Swift-hood momentarily."

Bruce Feirstein, a screenwriter and journalist in Los Angeles, said it's all about context.

"When my 14-year-old son sends me the face palm emoji, I laugh. I immediately respond. But that's a conversation with my 14-year-old son," he said. His business correspondence, on the other hand, has a tone that doesn't allow for a smiley face, or even the mustache man. "I've never gotten a serious piece of communication or a message from an adult with an emoji."

Feirstein, 61, is something of an authority on the subject of what men should or should not do, having written the 1982 bestseller "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche," a satirical "Guidebook to All That Is Truly Masculine," as the subtitle put it.

"When I wrote the book, things were simpler than they are now," he said. "I don't know if, in the year 2015, defining what a 'real man' would do or not do is relevant, because the culture has changed. I don't know if you can make these grand pronouncements anymore."

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