The Art of the Emoji Non-Reply
A non-reply is like a non-apology—when you reply someone but that same person doesn’t feel like you’ve actually replied.
Over the past few months, we couldn’t help noticing that people are now using emojis to end conversations. Somehow, this turns out be a mutually satisfying approach to ending exchanges that are otherwise awkward if left hanging.
Maybe you don’t know what to say beyond small talk. Or you don’t want to feel insincere for faking enthusiasm.
Or maybe it’s one of those goodbye things and you don’t want to get carried away with the sentimental stuff:
In this instance, some of us might feel pressured to go, “Let’s do this again sometime!”
Unless it’s actually our intention, we may then end up committing to something we’re not ready to. After all, we can enjoy being around certain people. But that doesn’t mean we want to see them regularly.
The rest of us might instead think, “Fuck it I’m not gonna reply—we’ll both forget about it anyway.” Which can be plain rude.
So the emoji makes the perfect non-reply:
This is ideal because it expresses both nothing and everything at once. It says, “Thanks for the compliment!” while also saying that the compliment makes you happy. Because it’s vague, it can mean anything the other person wants it to mean. From “I had a good time” to “I would like to do this again,” you leave it to their imagination.
The best part is, you don’t take responsibility for what they choose to think.
And then there are the numerous tricky, work related situations we’re all familiar with.
In this case, it looks like the conversation has clearly come to an end. But for some people, it’s an opportunity to show that they’re friendly, and that they play as hard as they work:
This might not be ideal because even if you work well together, that doesn’t mean you make great friends. Also, some of us prefer to keep professional relationships professional.
So try this:
This too, communicates a few things:
1. “Great job!”
2. “That was some great teamwork!”
3. “I’d love to work with you again!”
The point here is that sometimes, a conversation requires you to meet someone at a certain emotional level, but you just don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to do so. In other cases, you know that people are just being polite. So you want to evade the well-meaning but ultimately insincere things that people can end up saying.
This is where emojis make the perfect non-reply to end an exchange.
The key is in making sure you communicate significant emotional power in your choice of emoji. It can be a complex one like the first example where you mean several things. Or it could be an “overwhelming” one, where you’re basically saying several of the same thing.
Unnecessary conversation should be politely avoided. Ideally, reserve these for acquaintances, colleagues, and in-laws.
While emoji non-replies like 🙂 or 👌🏼 can succeed in ending a conversation, they seem insincere because they’re generic and obvious. They’re not creative, and it feels like you just picked the first emoji on the list without thinking.
Some might argue that emojis are lazy, but if some thought actually went into picking them, we sub-consciously recognise this. More often than not, we respond well to emojis like 😝 💪🏼♥️. It’s simply because they make us laugh or feel something positive without feeling like we need to reply.
As a final caveat, you want to avoid the use of negative emojis because they’ll simply prompt more questions and accordingly, extend the conversation.
Unfortunately, emoji non-replies won’t work for longer conversations because, well, if you’re actually talking about something, then you should text proper replies. Good conversation, after all, is hard to come by.
Unnecessary conversation, on the other hand, should just be politely avoided. Ideally, reserve these for acquaintances, colleagues, and in-laws.