Jack is inducted into the use of emojis for his new job
Background: Jack’s daughter has engineered a job for Jack at a trendy young tech firm. In this scene he’s in an induction workshop on his first day at the office. He’s sitting with three other newbies and the HR person is taking them through the ins and outs of the company culture. And then she says…
“Who knows how to use the rolling eyes emoji?”
She continues. “We use instant messaging so much at Sweet it can be overwhelming. But there are things you can do to help keep control of all the conversations going on. One of them is using the rolling eyes.”
I roll my eyes. Metaphorically. Externally I’m smiling and nodding.
“When you get a Lazy IM from a colleague that’s going to take a while to answer, just put in the rolling eyes. It means you’re looking at it, but it doesn’t start a whole new thread in the inbox.”
I look around. I’m still in an office block in Berkshire. As far as I can tell, I haven’t been teleported to Beijing by some fancy virtual reality technology. So why is this woman — albeit a damned attractive woman — talking in a language I can’t understand? We’re talking about colleagues who work in the same office building, probably at the next desk.
“Don’t you just get off your chair and talk to them?” I ask. “Do we really need to know the official way of using the rolling eyes?”
She laughs and shakes her head. “It’s not really official, Jack. But everybody’s so busy that they prefer to use the rolling eyes.”
So busy curating their IM feeds, and finding Sweet Creative ways of using the application to avoid real work.
“When you’ve thought about the IM and are ready to answer,” she says, “then it’s okay to start a new thread. But the rolling eyes means you’re taking their message seriously into consideration, you’re thinking about it, and you’re not ignoring it.”
Thank fuck for that!
Jack Cooper is a depressed, analogue throwback; a cynical, alcoholic Gen-Xer whose glory days are behind him. He’s unemployed, his marriage has broken down, he’s addicted to internet hook-ups, and is deeply ashamed of his son Geronimo, who lives life dressed as a bear.
When Jack’s daughter engineers a job for him at totally-lit tech firm Sweet, he’s confronted by a Millennial and Zoomer culture he can’t relate to. He loathes every detail – every IM, gif and emoji – apart from Freya, twenty years his junior and addicted to broadcasting her life on social media.
Can Jack evolve to fit in at Sweet, or will he remain a dinosaur stuck in the 1980s? And will he halt his slide into loneliness and repair his family relationships?
XYZ is for every Gen-Xer who ever struggled with a device, and for everyone else who loves emojis … said no one ever.
Author Bio –
William Knight is British born writer and technologist currently living and working in Wellington, New Zealand. He’s chased a portfolio career which began in acting, progressed to music, flirted with handbag manufacturing and was eventually wired into technology in the late nineties.
“I had my first feature published in Computing magazine back in 2003 and subsequently wrote about the many successes and failings of high-tech for the Guardian, Financial Times and the BBC among many others publications. I now work as an IT consultant, and write blistering content for technology firms :-)” says William
The Donated (formerly Generation), his debut novel and a Sci-tech Thriller, started in 2001 and was ten years in development. XYZ, “A mid-life crisis with a comic vein”, took far less time. “But I think it’s funnier and better. Yay. Jazz hands!”
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