S.O.S. // L.O.L.
Facebook introduced in 2016 Emojis to react more diversified to posts and articles.
They included the original thumb and introduced a heart, a laughing, a surprised, a crying, and an angry Emoji.
I researched and analyzed posts on the Facebook pages of German media outlets between 2018 and 2019. I included posts by Der Spiegel, Tagesschau, ZDF Heute, Bild, NTV, and FAZ. I selected some of the articles where a large number of people reacted with laughing Emojis.
Then I began looking at the profiles of these people and did a screenshot of their header, and occasionally read cross through their postings and intros to get a glimpse of understanding who they are.
I used these 2242 tiles and morphed them into one big laughing Emoji.
All in all, I took 2242 screenshots, frequently of the same profiles, as they expressed their feeling in more than one article. I focused on two keywords: Mediterranean Sea and Refugees.
For me, it is important that the headline alone made it recognizable that the article was about refugees that died while they attempted to cross the sea towards European soil. The headlines are mostly connected with the estimated number of people who died.
There is no ambiguity.
It serves as a reminder of how the history of our human race works as an entity. Whatever happened in the past is just known to current generations because someone witnessed and recorded it when it happened, otherwise it would be forgotten. Even though some facts have been recorded, they have also been destroyed.
The Internet works differently. Everything that has ever been done is recorded and stored somewhere in the endless storage space. Now, this alone does not make it history within the spheres of the Internet unless someone takes notice and publishes it. The classic rules of creating history are abandoned since we can go back in time. It serves as a reminder that the Internet is no breathless void.
It is an agora although one can hide their identity; the actions are still recorded. It is a reminder that there are laws and values; hopes and dreams that one has to define and protect. The world hasn’t yet understood fully, what that means, but it shall remind them that there are laws that are valid for the Internet as well.
It is a visual anthropological study of people on the Internet. All of them react towards the death of humans through drowning with a laughing Emoji, that does not grin, nor smile, but rather laughs aggressively towards the observer, as it wants to tell you that it was your own fault, like a friend who laughs at your misery. With only one difference; your friend would help you get back on afterwards – they don’t – they dispel your existence.
At the same time, these humans post photos that show them as loving parents, cat mothers, car and motorbike enthusiasts, football lovers, united families, and connected friends. They post articles of suffering animals, and hedgehogs that suffer from gardening robots, as well as calls for donations for animal shelters, plastic control, and cancer treatment.
I saw three profiles of deceased people, which I did not include; a Trekkie with a “United Federation of Planets” profile picture; an intro with a Shakespeare love quote; a post that starts with “No human is born as a racist…”, and some more life-loving lines.
All this is part of the story too.