It all begins with a small digitized yellow heart emoji. Boom. Relationship.
Snapchat, the social media app with the ghost icon, has an emoji system:
- The fire emoji with a number next to it indicates how many days you’ve been Snapchatting with someone.
- The smiley face emoji means you are each other’s best friend— which can also mean you spend a big chunk of your day sending selfies back-and-forth to this person. You can have up to eight best friends, in ranked order.
- The yellow heart emoji means you and the other person are each other’s number one best friend.
With Snapchat, the time it takes to develop a relationship has been digitally transformed into a series of emojis, from smiley face to yellow heart (or whatever customized emoji you choose to represent the yellow heart), and this digital representation is supposed to reflect your feelings for someone else. But it’s probably not a good idea to trust the match-making ability of Snapchat.
Meeting people and falling in love are gifts in life and we, as a generation, are restricting ourselves from reveling in those moments by limiting ourselves to interacting through social media.
Can you imagine your kids asking you one day, “Mom? Dad? How did you know you two were meant to be?” and you responding, “Oh, we knew we loved each other from the moment the yellow heart emoji appeared on the screen.”
With new social media apps being created all the time, the reality of our future is being determined by technology.
On Snapchat, modern day relationships (with fairy-tale visualizations) blossom with the touch of a finger on the SEND button. This kind of communication goes on for a little while until two people become each other’s number one best friend. This new status can inspire romantic visions of a future with this not-so-significant other. But what happens when you start dating in real life if you lose the yellow heart emoji status because one of you has been too busy to check in on Snapchat? Do you start questioning your partner’s loyalty? If gaining the yellow heart emoji was meaningful to your relationship, is losing it equally meaningful?
I’m an advocate for old school crushes.
Remember when teenage relationships began with face-to-face communication, passing notes during class, actually asking someone on a date rather than a not-so-subtle “We should chill” message through Snapchat.
We need to savor the priceless moments of interacting in person, or at least try to limit the effects of the digital age on our real relationships. Ask your grandparents, parents, or any adults in your life how they met their partner. Their story will be far more moving than the insignificance of a yellow heart emoji.
The yellow heart effect demonstrates the power of one digital emoji (or, rather, the power of social media technology) to affect human emotions. Snapchat’s heart-shaped relationship emoji can encourage you to feel a certain way about someone when, maybe, you just like talking to them. And we shouldn’t let an emoji, or a social media app, influence our love lives. Or dictate the course of our real life relationships.
It’s the beginning of cuffing season, so be careful how you determine your feelings for someone else. And watch out for the yellow heart emoji.