I’ve been thinking lately about our “text personas”, i.e. the way we represent ourselves in text mediums. Of course this can vary from context to context, SMS, vs. Twitter vs. WhatsApp vs. blog post, etc. In all cases I think it has at least some differences from how we communicate vocally, in-person (at least for most people). Of particular interest to me is our behavior and choices in less formal text mediums like SMS, dating apps, etc. These behaviors are, for me, connected to often subtle visceral feelings about the context, audience, perception, etc. on a particular platform.
You may have noticed from reading some of my posts here: I’m a somewhat heavy user of emojis. And this definitely carries over into my SMS and general chat behavior. In fact I probably use more emoji per character or message in texts messages than I do here. I think I have fallen into this to try to make up for what otherwise feels like a fairly “dead”, emotionless medium. Certainly some writers, more skilled than I, can communicate emotion very well with the written word. Even still I wonder about the informal text personas of people like this, poets, novelists, etc. If any are reading this, let me know!
At the same time I am more self-conscious of using them on Twitter, perhaps because it’s more public and less intimate, or perhaps due to the most common subject matter of my tweets, or… some other factor. Teasing the component reasons apart is what fascinates me here.
It’s also interesting to note that, although I tend to favor use of emoji, I have a fairly negative view of using lots of emoji in a row. I almost never do it myself, and while it doesn’t always bother me when others do, I seldom love it. It just feels… excessive? Over-the-top? Even perhaps attention-seeking? I’m not certain, and it deserves more introspection to really understand. But, though it should be obvious, I think it’s important to acknowledge that there is a distinction between the intent of the writer and how I perceive it. My negative perceptions may be totally disconnected from the writer’s intent (e.g. whether they are actually “attention-seeking”), and probably very often are.
I guess perhaps my use of emoji and simultaneous avoidance of “lots” of them could be analogized to a desire to dress nicely, and smile frequently at people (i.e. to present myself positively to others), but not dress in a more flashy way, or make other more overt expressions of personality, emotion, intent, etc. (i.e. to not be too demonstrative, not stand out much). That said I suspect my use of emoji might stand out more as a cisgender man anyway. At least that’s my sense judging by my primary social peers.
Hopefully more contemplation of this to come, and I welcome your thoughts, insights into your own text personas, etc!