Colorado State University has advised students to make their social media “more inclusive” by “avoiding gendered emojis,” in a social-media guide for students entitled “10 Ways to Make Social Media Channels More Inclusive.”
“Avoid gendered emojis when possible,” the guide states. “Instead use one of the variations of the yellow smiley faces or object emojis.”
Other items on the list include “Use the yellow emojis when addressing a diverse audience” and “Use inclusive pronouns (they/them/theirs, students, Rams, everyone).”
“Social media is a powerful communications tool,” the guide states. “So is language. Both shape our perception of the world in both subtle and obvious ways. As social media managers and marketers, that power comes with great responsibility.”
Honestly, even seeing the words “power comes with great responsibility” in a discussion of emojis makes me want to smash my head against my desk. Maybe I’m an unusually stable person, but I can honestly say that I have never had any kind of extreme emotional reaction to an emoji of any kind whatsoever. I can also say that there has never been an emoji that did anything to “shape my perception of the world,” not even in a “subtle way,” and I’d be surprised to find anyone who feels otherwise.
What’s more, it kind of seems like the guide’s author doesn’t understand the entire purpose of emojis in the first place. When I use the little-blonde-white-girl emoji to signify that I’m shrugging, or getting my hair cut, or anything else, I am doing just that — signifying that I am doing something. I’m not intending to signify that blonde, white females are superior to other people. I don’t have to be “inclusive” of other people when I use these emojis because I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about myself, and only myself, and I am a blonde white girl. Not to brag, but I am actually quite confident that I know my own gender, my own hair color, and my own race, so why is it offensive for me to use an emoji that signifies these things? Answer: It isn’t. The bottom line is that people generally use emojis to represent themselves and their feelings and/or activities at a given moment, and it is perfectly fine to choose one accordingly.