• Adam Tarnow

Well, this is embarrassing

Recently I made a deliberate change in my communication. In an attempt to bring more levity to my life and spread more joy, I've consciously begun to use 😂 on a regular basis. This decision was a difficult one. I've made fun of emoji use over the years. To me, using them felt a tad juvenile. Like showing up to a business meeting and taking notes in my fine Italian leather portfolio while using a blueberry scented Crayola Marker. Who would do that? But then 2020 happened. The world felt 🙁, and I wanted it to feel more 🤩 so the use of 😂 felt like a harmless yet helpful way to get there. Suppose someone texted me anything that remotely resembled a joke. They got 😂 texted back to them. If their text message did make me laugh, then they got 😂😂😂. Three of them in a row! I mean, seriously, what was happening to me? Am I about to start dancing at weddings and reconsidering my views on cat ownership? My most egregious and brazen use of 😂 was happening on LinkedIn. I'm so embarrassed. We all know LinkedIn is not known for its levity and zany good times. Using 😂 on that platform felt like trying to make a joke at a funeral. Yes, it was risky, but sometimes it works. As far as I know, no one "unconnected" with me, and I continued to receive the same number of cold-call solicitations promising, "to generate more leads for your business than ever before!!!" Well, this all changed last week. Why? Because my buddy Ryan Howell (yes...the same Ryan that I called out last week for enjoying Long John Silvers) sent me an article from CNN entitled, Sorry, millennials. The 😂 emoji isn't cool anymore. My initial reaction? 🤬 followed by the all too familiar feelings of shame, embarrassment, and a tad more shame.

I was wrong. When I used 😂 I wasn't adding levity or spreading joy. My use of this emoji was like going out in public wearing jean shorts, sandals, dark socks, and a Batman t-shirt. Sure, I’ll look normal while sitting in the lobby at the local Discount Tire, but that's not the way I want to live my life.

Once again, I’ve learned some lessons. My reaction to this embarrassing news.

  • GenZ is the new Millennial. Please note, we're no longer trying to impress Millennials, and we’re now trying to impress GenZ. (Shameless plug: This podcast can help).


  • For me, because I’m not a GenZer (or an ancient Egyptian), I will probably stick with words when I communicate. I’m not telling you to live this way. This is just where I’m landing.


  • In the end, it's all about sincerity. Just be sincere. That’ll never go out of style, and no one will poke fun at sincerity. So long as you are sincere in your communication, you’ll do fine.

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