My poor mother can attest.
But in truth, there are few things that have thrown me for a loop more than the sudden preponderance of the alien emoji.
This is my story.
At a time not long ago (like, 6 weeks ago, maybe?) during an age (I mean now — but I'm establishing relevance here — so bear with me) when a person's survival was solely based on his/her ability to recognize, regurgitate and respond to seemingly mindless technological social cues — I discovered that I'd made a strange mistake.
In my futile earnestness to stay perpetually abreast of all social movements, I'd misinterpreted the sudden preponderance of the alien emoji — or the alien-in-a-box emoji, I should say — as a social trend, rather than what it was:
a goofy technological coping mechanism put in place by the masterminds at Apple to prospectively (though I argue, definitely) confuse the shit out of anyone whose over 3,000 stored photos of breakfast eggs, NYC skylines, and fitting room selfies precluded them from having the memory available to update their outdated operating system.
You can find articles about the glitch online, but essentially, the alien emoji served as a stand-in for the new operating system's updated set of emojis on anyone's phone who had yet failed to upgrade.
This means that the emoji was not, as it turned out, a surreptitious social movement towards the excessive overuse of a seemingly mindless hieroglyphic.
And yet. . .
This is where my confusion began.
There exists a wonderful The Week article chronicling the still somewhat undiscussed phenomenon that proceeded to occur quite well, but as a narcissist with a propensity for self reflection, it's only natural that I should be driven to relay my own experience.
See — though there was no recognizable reason behind why my closest friends were suddenly texting me copious amounts of aliens in boxes in random scenarios, I suddenly assumed that everyone except me was in on a new social insider reference. An inside joke, of sorts, similar to the epidemic of misspelling "tho". One more social media trend that held little to no personal weight but that I craved to fully understand.
The title of The Week article explains it perfectly:
And it did. I couldn't understand the meaning behind the alien, so I invented one.
Maybe, I thought, it represented the fact that the average smiley no longer felt eclectic or varied enough to capture our eccentric, "complicated", millennial mindsets. Maybe, I projected, we all were beginning to feel more in common with a bug-eyed alien than with a socially-normalized smiling yellow face. OR, I thought, perhaps the alien-in-a-box was a way to relay that, no matter the circumstance (even if you're just texting me to pick up a bottle of wine before our platonic NF&C sesh) we're always feeling a bit spacey — a little off-kilter — sort of outside of ourselves — a meaning I'd attributed to this simple little image.
I even remember tweeting (prophetically) that I wanted to write a think piece about it — seeking meaning where there was none.
Then — I started to use it.
Not the alien in a box (Because that was a tech glitch and unavailable), but the little alien that was within my emoji repertoire.
I began to insert it into daily conversations with perceived weight. With assumed added significance.
Long story (sort of) short — I Googled "what does the alien emoji mean" (because I'm an impatient and rewards-oriented millennial), I realized my error, and instead of laughing, actually found myself uncomfortable.
What other instances in my life might be metaphoric alien emojis??
Where else have I anxiously assumed meaning where there was none?
What other social trends have a mindlessly adopted and re-appropriated without understanding their significance?
The fact that I was able to see through the baseless reason behind the prevalence of the alien emoji put me in a unique situation to question my adoption of other trends in a new way.
Boyfriend jeans, flatform shoes, oversized coats, side-slit sweaters — I never fully grasped their origins, but in truth, if I did, would their origins seem much more appealing to me than the alien's? Somehow, I doubt it.
Truth be told, I quite like the meaning I've assigned to the alien emoji. Just as much as I like my giant winter coat and 4 inch flatform booties — for reasons that of course incorporate social signals, but also involve filtering them through my own personal taste.
|& bc this started as a fashion blog, you can buy this gem here|
So how much of the person that I am today is based on a need to fit in, and how much is based on a curation and re-interpretation of cues/trends/stimuli, etc?
Is there a line?
Does it matter??