Getting Upstaged By An Emoji: A Memoir

A couple of blog readers shared with me that I need to lighten up a bit. Pet some puppies. Laugh a little. Share the love. You know who you are, and I suggest that you listen to some Black Flag and mind your own damn business.

But I jest, dear friends. I know you mean well. And I love you.

Speaking of petting some puppies, we picked up our discount-low-rent bulldog, Elroy, ten years ago this week. Time is a jet-plane, Bob Dylan, you’re right!

Check him out with his homemade-my-new-owners-are-super-broke-toy! His look says, “Damn, I could been purchased by two East-side Seattle yuppies, and I’m going home with these two broke book nerd losers? I have to chew through my rage. I need to chew this.”Elroy

No. His look says, “I’m going to be your Brah with fur, Broke Book Nerds, and you’re going to love me. ”

And we do, little guy. We do. And we know you hate our bikes. (Bikes mean Furry Brah stays home). Happy 10 years of Elroy.

So now, let me share some love and a funny story. This may be of particular interest to my OER friends.

Last month, we did a bit of celebrating our faculty who are engaged in implementing OER. They are the second cohort of my Alternative Textbook Committee. The yin to my yang. Faculty whom I adore. People who are interested in student success. Democracy. Creativity. The advancement of our citizenry. True Teacher Leaders. You know, all the stuff that makes my heart race. We invited teachers to show what they did, to talk a bit about their work, and eat some food. It was fun for me.

The attendance was a bit low, but I embraced that as a way to show the faculty the administration’s level of interest in OER. There were two deans there. And they both work in my department, but I digress. Keep it funny, Indrunas. Puppies. Happiness. Yep. Right.

There were also two student reporters in attendance. They were taking notes. I was looking at them directly as I addressed questions. Laser beam focus on those young writers. Then I hopped on the soap box and started listing things the faculty should talk about with their union negotiations. Listing things that would help their departments and professional development funding. Listing things that need to happen to advance the good work they do.

Then the sweet journalist students came up to meet me. Shake my hand. Talk about writing. A unicorn flew over the building. It was a lovely day. I went home and petted my decade old puppy.

A week later, I’m getting interviewed by a reporter. Rumor has it, the students are fired up about textbook costs. They’re asking other students about OER. Hot damn. Another unicorn flies over the campus leaving stardust and glittery light. Finally, I think, after three years of trying to drum up some OER interest, I finally have some student activist momentum. Finally.

I speak my truth. The Truth as I’ve learned from others in this movement. The Truth as the folks who have taught me much about OER have spoken before me. Before I knew the acronym OER. I made sure I didn’t drink too much coffee that morning and talk this female reporter’s ear off. We had a lovely chat. Another unicorn flew by and left a rainbow in its wake.

Then the student paper came out, and yours truly is the headline. Hot damn. There is also a tweet about it from somebody I don’t know, which is beyond cool. A herd of unicorns gathered in the sky. They started to synchronize as a swarm of unicorns spelling out the letters, O.E.R and big giant heart.

A bald eagle, the spirit of American freedom and democracy, was perched on the back of the head unicorn. He wore a cape made from the stars and stripes. He winked at me. All was well in the universe.

I emailed some friends and said, “Hey, check me out in the student newspaper. When this hits the fan, can we camp out in your backyard? Surely this is material worthy of getting me fired. I’m pretty sure these folks have had it with me.”

They wrote back enthusiastic invitations and welcoming words. My friend who works at a university sent the article to her student employees. One her students responded with “Fuck yes, OER is the shit.” I shared those emails with the unicorns. The eagle blew me a kiss.

I texted the mister: HolyF. Might be in trouble for this one. Check out the Clipper headline.

His response: Power to The People.

Then The People started to read the newspaper. The unicorn wings stopped flapping. The eagle dove down into the bay to feed on a fish carcass. The sparkle dust from the unicorn horns blew away. The head unicorn shed a tear, turned her wings and flew to the north.

Everyone, I mean, everyone was talking about the review of the campus bathrooms titled “Where Do You Poop on Campus?” Everyone. As in everyone. Everyone.

From students, to faculty, to staff, to administration, to my team. Albeit this is clever useful journalism, my story was totally upstaged by the use of poop emojis as a ranking scale. And before you hop on the make-fun-of-millennials-and-their-short-attention-span-bandwagon, let me tell you, faculty were digging it. Cracking up. Sharing horror stories of bodily functions and the humiliation of public bathrooms.

Some of them learned what an emoji is, so really, I should chalk this one up as a victory for online communication tools. (Unicorns! Come back. Wait…)

On another day, I would have reveled in this banter. Added a few stories of my own. Made up anecdotes about the linguistic origins of the word “emoji” and how we can implement them into formative online assessments.

Not today.

Dammit. Everyone was talking about the clever use of poop emojis and not OER. You read that right. Poop emojis. Not OER.

So tell it, Uncle Henry. You’re right. Annihilate this week.

About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, professional development, adult education, and writing.
This entry was posted in All The Things and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Getting Upstaged By An Emoji: A Memoir

  1. Lisa Chamberlin says:

    Tears and laughter…tears and laughter.


  2. coasttech says:

    It’s nice that the reactions to the article on OER Is well, nothing, and not negative. So glad students are writing about it, though.

    2 years on an article about bathrooms? I plan to read it, but um… the poo emoji is almost NSFW (or Starbucks, as the case may be).


  3. It was the idea of the editor last year, so the writers this year made it happen. It’s actually quite the charming that the students wrote this together. It really cracks me up, and it’s NSFW–that’s why student journalism is so awesome. They can write about things we can’t, and they have every right to investigate what they want to with their paper. There is a larger metaphor for OER as emergent and contested on our campus, so the use of a digitally made communication symbol is kind of icing on the cake for me.

    And the Black Flag song is for my friend who likes to tell me that Henry Rollins is so angry. As if that’s a new insight. Captain Obvious, ahoy!


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