Winking Face with Stuck-out Tongue

Every day, I rely entirely on digital devices to produce, consume and manage information for myself and others. I edit podcasts with my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil; I listen to music on my iPhone; I take photos on my Olympus camera; I import and edit photos on my iPad mini; I watch YouTube on my Apple TV; I listen to podcasts with my Apple Watch; and I write and edit videos on my Mac. There’s way more to what I do on each device than this list, but I think that it illustrates the point that in a way, we’ve become cyborgs. We may not all have *implanted* devices in our bodies, but we’re so dependent on such digital tools that to have them removed would be like missing a limb or losing a sense. Our brains have been rewired and I like I wrote in the previous issue of this newsletter, technology shapes our thoughts.

Back in the third issue of volume one, I wrote about how little I write by hand these days, which is a direct result of using digital technology. Why write slowly when I can type efficiently? I realise that there are benefits to slowing down but I genuinely enjoy the feeling of typing, as words flow out of my brain onto the screen.

It was while handwriting a Christmas card for a Secret Santa colleague-present-swap that I had a weird realisation about just how much typing has affected my brain. For the first time ever, while handwriting, I wanted to end a joke at the end of my message with an emoji: the ‘winking face with stuck-out tongue’.

You may just recognise it as this: 😜

I’m so accustomed to ending paragraphs with emoji in chat apps like iMessage and work apps like Teams that I visualised the emoji keyboard while handwriting, but then froze when I realised that I couldn’t type it.

Is this something to worry about? No, not at all. Is language failing because we use emoji or ‘text language’ all the time? No, in fact, it adds to the richness and diversity of language. What it does tell us, however, is that we are less free or deliberate in our decision making than we think we are. Whether it’s the dominant hand that you always use to brush your teeth, the direction that you follow every day to reach your workplace or the habit of adding emoji to the end of your sentences, we are habitual beings that are only slightly self-aware of our decisions, actions and bodily processes.

Have you noticed any old or new habits that you’ve developed? Can you change them? Do you need to change them? What do they say about you?

This post was originally written in December 2022 for Hemispheric News; subscribe at the members’ site One Prime Plus to receive this newsletter and other benefits that are linked to the Hemispheric Views podcast.

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