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  • Joshua Britton

The Laugh Emoji

The addition on Facebook of the “laugh emoji” several years ago was well-intentioned but boy do I hate it. The obvious use for the laugh emoji is to laugh at something funny, as happens. But it very often also gets used to make fun of something or to make fun of a person saying something.

As a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, I see this a lot. Pirates fans are bitter, and justifiably so. Once pathetically optimistic, over the years I too have grown to be as skeptical as anyone. In the last few years, almost every Facebook announcement by The Pirates, or even by any news outlet reporting on the Pirates, gets laughed at. It doesn’t matter what it is. If they lose a close one, there is a contingent of people who laugh at it. If they sign a player to fill out the Double-A team in Altoona, people laugh at it. If they show the owner, Bob Nutting, at a charity event, people laugh at it. And if they lose, people laugh.

During spring training, most games are in the afternoon, and therefore, because I work during the day, I didn’t get to watch very many of them. But they had a night game scheduled, as there tend to be a handful of night games, and on the team’s post on Facebook I commented that, while I knew spring training games don’t matter, I was really looking forward to sitting down and watching it later. My comment was as short and as benign as that. And boy did I get laughed at! Several times! Why? Because I’m a dupe, a gullible Pirates fan who supports the team despite the ownership’s seeming lack of commitment to putting a winning product on the field.

The first month of this current season was unlike the beginning of any Pirates season I can remember. They were phenomenal and finished April with the best record in the National League, and second-best in the Major League. There was suddenly much less laughing! Then they started losing. And they started losing badly. And ugly. And a lot—seven games in a row, most not close at all. And all of the laughers (the jeerers) were suddenly back in full force.

Laughing at the Pirates, I think, is a movement to make management and especially ownership realize what a joke they are and that they should either sell the team or change their ways. The thinking of these laughers is that the “angry” emotion isn’t effective enough, that to display anger shows that you still care, while laughing at them shows apathetic bemusement, as if to suggest “we would care if you cared but you don’t so we don’t.”

I won’t even touch politics. While I think I know about baseball more than the average fan, I don’t know so much about politics. But it doesn’t matter which political party and which individual politicians you root for, if you comment on it, you’re going to get made fun of. You’ll get the laugh emoji, for sure, though hiding behind their screens you’ll also receive actual written words making fun of and insulting you.

Besides liking and following baseball pages, I also like and follow a lot of band and music pages. And here, too, people laugh at others for liking certain bands, because they’re not “punk” enough, or because they “sold out,” or because they haven’t been good or “relevant” since the 90s. I suppose it’s arrogance. I can be arrogant. And opinionated. When it comes to punk music, I’m as snobby as anyone. But, if I may pat myself on my back, I reserve my opinions for my actual friends. If Craig listens to Yellowcard, I will feel comfortable making fun of Yellowcard to him as we text each other back and forth, because Craig is my friend and friends do that kind of thing. But if some stranger posts a picture of their New Found Glory collection, or comments on “what a banger” some Good Charlotte album is, I simply move on. I hate those bands. I think they suck bad. I’m even guilty of thinking that they’re not punk enough or that they may have been trendy sell outs once upon a time. But now that I’m not a teenager anymore, and now that a lot of those kinds of bands have entered the dreaded “legacy” stage of their careers, I really don’t care if they exist or if an inordinate number of people seem to like them. I suppose this may be in part because I don’t like it when it happens to me. For instance, I have occasionally admitted on these punker-than-punk pages that I like blink-182 and that I even like their new stuff. That kind of thing gets you made fun of.

I don’t think the addition of another emoji is the answer. Deletion would be better, though if being an American has taught me anything it’s that we will never accept less when more is an option, for better or worse. And again, I think the laugh emoji was well-intentioned. But boy do those bitter crusaders-against-Pirates-ownership annoy the crap out of me.

Rant over.

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