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Living with ALS: Deciphering a new world of emojis and acronyms

Written By | Sep 8, 2019
emojis, acronyms, picto grams, language, ALS

CHARLOTTE, NC: I cannot speak for other Baby Boomers, but I suspect that many of us are actively learning the picto language of the 21st century. I suppose an “emoji” would be a good way to communicate if only I knew what it is. How long have they been around anyway and who designs them? I also know they are cute little representations, at least they are when I understand them, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge.

So what exactly is an emoji? For example, does Pacman qualify? If so, was he the first? What about “I (heart) New York”, does that count?

Truth be known, Pacman debuted in 1980 in Japan, which makes him a product of the 20th century. New York’s “heart” however, pre-dates Pacman by three years, originating in 1977.

picto language, emojis, acronyms, als, bob taylor

I Love Coffee


Back then we called them logos, like the Nike “Swoosh.”

Emoji History

The first emoji that was known by that name was born in Japan for their mobile phones in 1997, so now you can decide for yourself which image/term gets the honor.

The picto language of emojis phenomenon’s breakout year was 2010 when several mobile operating systems added them to their cell phone products.  The trend became so popular that by 2015, Oxford Dictionaries named the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji the Word of the Year.

Sorry gang, call me old fashioned or a curmudgeon but real words have worked just fine since the beginning of time, so I’ll opt out of the idea that a cartoon, no matter how cute, qualifies as a legitimate substitute for a perfectly good word.

Mike Keith and the poetic injustice known as constrained writing Myth Trivia

With the advent of Twitter where words are limited, another world of communications has evolved that is even more maddening for those of us living in the dark ages beyond 50. They are known as acronyms which are not unlike little letter puzzles that bring something new each day.

“I’ll buy a vowel, Vanna.”

Acronyms: It’s like speaking in shorthand.

No sooner had I mastered  LOL (laughing out loud), OMG (oh my God) and LMK (let me know) when along came a whole new set of acronyms that would have had Daniel Webster spinning in his grave. Before long we are going to need an “acronytionary” in order to be able to speak with each other.

For me, learning to decipher acronyms is the same thought process as decoding messages on vanity license tags.

The most recent acronyms, that I am aware of at least, are YOLO and FOMO. These do not bode well for those of us who are most familiar with AARP.

YOLO is apparently the newest, meaning “you only live once.” FOMO (fear of missing out) appears to be a close second and is used in the context of attempting to explain, no matter how poorly, why so many people, especially millennials, are constantly engrossed with checking their cell phones.

All of which is merely a rationalization to justify our contemporary obsession with electronic media.


Which brings me now, though some 500 real words into this essay, to the reason for mentioning one of the unanticipated blessings of ALS.

You see for me the word “mobile” no longer applies when it comes to phones because I am not able to get the device in time to answer. The same is true with texting, but to a slightly lesser degree.

Do I miss it? Not one bit. I have no hidden FOMO because losing access to Mr. Bell’s invention has greatly added to my appreciation of YOLO.

Today, rather than listening for some precious little jingle which notifies me that someone is calling, I can be in my own private world where;

  • I can look out the windows and watch the scenery pass by when I am riding in a car
  • I watch people and notice the décor of a restaurant when I go out to eat
  • I hear birds and feel the warm embrace of summer as it envelopes me with gentle breezes and the sounds of silence
  • I write, more slowly than I used to, but with no less enthusiasm
  • I recall my lifetime of travel and use any excuse to dream of bold new adventures
  • Most of all, I savor the joy of missing out

For me, and I may be the only person who ever uses this acronym, I call it “IETJOMOBFMDIDGAD.”

Yeah, I know it’s a little long, but I’ve been around for a while, too. So what does it mean?

All right I’ll save you the trouble:

“I Embrace The Joy Of Missing Out, Because ‘Frankly, my dear, I Don’t Give A Damn.'”
picto language, emojis, acronyms, als, bob taylor

Screen Shot – Gone With the Wind – Clark Gable – Vivianne Leigh


About the Author:

Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is a founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Read more of Bob’s journeys with ALS and his travels around the world

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.