Humour: Meet the eye-rolling emoji!

How certain turns of phrase can turn the stomach as well

Updated: Aug 11, 2018 22:31:11

By Rehana Munir

I can just see millions of emoticons deriding us humans on the virtual planet Emojica, using all manner of cruel faces (Photo Illustration Parth Garg)

Conversations with my 16-year-old niece are often enlightening. Take, for example, the fact that she casually called the formidable Ma Sheela in Switzerland and had a conversation with her about her experiences with the Osho cult, detailed in the Netflix hit, Wild Wild Country. Just when I think the teenager’s gone over to the dark side, she deflates the tension by filling me in on slang words from the Kardashian show. “Bible!” the denizens of Bizarroworld proclaim when they’re vehement about something. “Hundo P” is their 100 per cent. And for some reason they shriek “Okurrr” when they mean to say OK. My ancient heart cannot take these lashings. In fact, I struggle with far tamer phrases in the lexicon, like in the list below.


I have nothing against nicknames. In fact, I have one that I identify with more than I do with my real name. But these cutesy generic utterings are unendurable. I’m not anyone’s “bro”. Never have been, never will be. Bae – heaven forbid. And Boo – ewwww. Lovers’ endearments, my very prudish streak says, are for the bedroom. Who likes to hear someone address their beloved as Jaanu? I feel like an unwilling voyeur each time I’m caught in hearing range of these sweet nothings. Also, there’s a superb word in Hindustani that covers the entire range of relationships from age-old romances to water-cooler friendships, without the slightest hint of ickiness – yaar.

Baby mama/baby papa

It’s where I draw the cuteness Line of Control: calling the mother/father of your child (but not your spouse) Baby Mama or Baby Papa. Sigh. Babies are generally cute. Their parents are generally not. This soft and cuddly appellation makes single parenthood out to be a walk in a park where teddy bears roam and fairies gather. If infantilising a child is odd, doing that to a parent is delusional. Okurr?

Killing time

This phrase I object to on philosophical grounds. It strikes me as particularly brutal.

Why kill time when you can fill it? We spend vast amounts of money buying time-saving gadgets only to be left with spare time we don’t know what to do with. Time frees up at the most inconvenient of times. Makes itself felt, like an attention-seeking brat. So we “kill” it with beer at the pub. Unsatisfying phone calls. Or binge-watching a show we won’t remember the next morning. Worst of all, when someone lands up at the door saying they wanted to kill some time before their real engagement. Positively heartless.

It’s a small world

Yes, it is. No, it’s not.

“Hey. I ran into your father on the bus.” “It’s a small world!”

“Your MBA classmate’s cousin’s tennis partner is my next-door neighbour.” “It’s a small world!”

“I’m dating your ex-girlfriend.” “It’s a small world!”

What do you do when you receive six red roses, two fireworks and a set of paw prints in reply to an innocuous: “How are you?”

Okay, maybe not the last one. But it’s one of those clichés used to describe all sorts of accidental meetings that for some reinforce the six degrees of separation theory. Now I’m someone who runs unexpectedly into people in the street, on public transport, in offices and homes more than the average person. Must be a function of having lived within a small geographical radius all my life. And being freakishly good with names and faces. And yes, even if the world does appear small because of this social and digital web of connections, shouldn’t the vocabulary that describes this closeness expand? Bible!

So, like, anywayz

This piece is really not as mean-spirited a put-down as it appears. We all use clichés and slang – the old and new of language. But within this linguistic churning, different people find different usages repellant. WhatsApp has unleashed another monster on the world: emojis. I find them to be an excellent surrogate for language on many occasions. A moderate smiley followed by a balloon is my all-purpose friendly transmission. But what do you do when you receive six red roses, two fireworks and a set of paw prints in reply to an innocuous: “How are you?” I can just see millions of emoticons deriding us humans on the virtual planet Emojica, using all manner of cruel faces. As a form of rebellion, I’m inclined to conduct phone chats exclusively via emojis. It’ll Hundo P upset some sticklers.

From HT Brunch, August 12, 2018

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First Published: Aug 11, 2018 22:31:11


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