The sights you see will drive you mad. Deuteronomy 28:34

The millennial generation is tied to their emotions. According to the definition of emotionalism,  they tend to respond with undue emotion. They even make decisions based on emotion.

In a recent seminar with college students, close to 80% admitted to Jolene Erlacher, an expert on millennials, that they made decisions based on emotions, rather than using critical thinking, logic or reasoning. Unfortunately, emotions will only carry you so far.

Emotionalism carries over to their communication. “Their world has fewer words and a greater number of images” according to Tim Elmore.  Expressing nuanced emotions through graphics is fine, but their world is far more tied to deep emotions.

Using a smiley faced emoji doesn’t give a true insight into real emotions inside them.

We recently had dinner with a friend and his wife who we hadn’t seen in a couple of years. The dinner conversation turned sour when he started ranting about how he hated a particular politician.  It almost spoiled a nice evening. His hatred had no limits.

It was difficult to listen to someone who was so wrapped up in his emotions that he became irrational and belligerent.   That’s what emotions can do, even to someone who has a graduate degree.  It clouds judgment.

He is not alone today, although he is no millennial. But he has company with the next generation. The emotions displayed by him put the conversation into an “I’m right” and if you disagree, “You’re wrong” mode. There is no middle ground, and facts, logic, and statistics don’t matter.

It leads to uncomfortable discussions, even among friends. Civility and the ability to discuss a topic goes out the window. There was no openness to even examine another perspective.

Our experience with my friend shows a downside to living on your emotions. It can lead one into a “if it feels good”, it must be the right thing to do, even if reason and logic points the opposite direction.

You can see a form of emotionalism in  millennial communication.  They use emojis and emoticons freely.  Someone has described these as “new-age hieroglyphics.”

For background, emoticons showed up around 1982. These consist of punctuation marks, letters, and numbers to make an icon that reflects an emotion, such as “:-)” or its opposite, :-(.   They are often read on their side.

Emoji came from Japan in 1999 and the word means “picture” and “character” in Japanese. We recognize them as cartoony faces, pictures of animals, including those in the above graphic.

I see them on social media and my granddaughters reprogrammed my phone so I can create my own emoji.  I feel like I am still in Latin One trying to learn tenses of verbs.

What’s interesting is that because they are relatively new to the scene  our courts are having to deal with them to interpret what message was actually being sent. An emoji in a message can change the meaning of the words entirely. They are often used in texts between people.

A study concluded that 20% of people using an emoji in a tweet would have changed it if they had realized that it conveyed a confusing message.

Part of the confusion is that software developers have created their own emoji for their platforms. Microsoft emojis look different from Apple emojis which look different than Samsung emojis.

Communicating with emojis is not going away, particularly with a generation that has grown up with them. While I am fine communicating with graphics, I go back to my point in the beginning of this post which is that life is more than emotions.

I watched a short video last night where a U.S. Senator was interacting with a class of students who were taught to believe that a climate change agenda costing $93 trillion dollars was a good idea.  The Senator replied that while it was a lofty goal, the reality was that it was unaffordable.

The students reacted emotionally and said she was “wrong” in her thinking. Reality, facts or logic didn’t matter. They were right, after all.

Emotions do not replace critical thinking. It also leads to a tendency to ignore any other input on a topic that you have latched on to emotionally.  The antidote for emotional decisions is an open mind that is committed to learning and reading.

Our challenge is to help the next generation learn how to think, not what to think. Introducing things like The Skimm into their lives is a start at informing them about contemporary issues.

TAKEAWAY: A mentor can help mentees be open to new ideas and concepts, even if they are at odds with their emotions. A decision or opinion based on emotion can lead to a decision which will be later regretted.

FURTHER READING: The difference between emoji and emoticons.

Emojis in different platforms.

Courts having difficulty interpreting emojis.

The Daily Skimm can be seen here. It comes in a podcast, too.

WORSHIP:  Listen to Amy Grant sing Better than a Hallelujah.

MENTORLINK: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address.


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