Technology has revolutionized the way we communicate. Just like that we’ve gotten away with time and distance problems when connecting to our loved ones. What was the longest time you waited before you could connect to a loved one? No one remembers!
Smartphones and real time instant messaging services have truly flattened the world. If you look at teens and adults everywhere who are glued to their smartphones you’ll easily know what they’re upto. They are either app junkies or social stars.
Most of them are – Communicating. Socializing. Building relations.
What we say, how we say, to whom we say – everything has changed with the internet, smartphones and messaging apps.
The rise of emojis:
The maximum recorded number of messages sent per day on the biggest messaging app whatsapp is 64 billions messages per day! Can you imagine how much that is? We’re truly communicating as if today is the end of it all.
It’s in the context of such frequent and large quantities of communication that emojis have become a texter’s best friend.
We humans have a need to express our emotions when we converse and visual content is a major component of how we communicate. A picture is worth a thousand words and it’s true! Just take a look at the number of pictures shared across the world.
Since the nature of communications changed from face-to-face to phone calls to text, we gained some things and lost some things. Our body language, facial expressions, voice, mood everything conveyed meaning in face to face conversations. They added a certain context, mood and amplified the message being conveyed. We’re evolutionarily primed to pay attention to the speaker’s face when listening. We pick up all the facial cues. It’s part of the social priming to help us succeed socially. Text alone, due to its inherent lack of any sort of emotional context is problematic. Words alone can be ambiguous, and so users naturally began creating text-based emoticons to express the intention behind the words, such as the ever-popular smiley face. The growth of emoticons says a lot about how we’re otherwise limited when communicating online. While text-based emoticons are better than nothing, they still lack the kind of emotional expression individuals are presented with when holding an in-person conversation, hence the eventual creation of image-based emoticons or emoji. Emoji may allow us to re-incorporate the missing elements from face to face communication back into our text.
Emojis Translate to picture (e) + writing (mo) + character (ji) in Japanese, emojis are changing how we communicate. These tiny pictures originated in Japan, but they’ve recently made their way around the world and into our text messages, emails, social media, and other text-based conversations. They have completely taken over and changed the face of modern digital communication.
Sociology professor Ben Agger at the University of Texas at Arlington states that “Emoticons and emoji bring the nuances of face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction, those nuances and subtleties which are necessarily lacking when you’re interacting by way of the screen,” he says. “They attempt to make up for that alienation.”
How have they been helpful?
When emoji appear with text, they often supplement or enhance the writing. This is similar to gestures that appear along with speech.
Emojis have become inescapable, so efficiently communicating in just a single icon what so many words (or no words at all) could convey. It’s the closest we have to face-to-face conversations.
Adding a winking smiley face to your message can help reduce ambiguity and successfully convey sarcasm.
Emojis can remedy message misalignment in the same way we use nonverbal cues during face-to-face communication. You can type some text and say that it’s meant to be taken as a joke.
You could send someone just emojis when you have nothing else to say. It’s a way to say hi without saying hi.
Emojis help you think and express more creatively. Many teens use emojis to try to make the conversation a little more aesthetically interesting.
Emojis in general boost the quality of communication you’re having and increases perceived social intimacy. It amplifies the message being sent (anger, joy, sadness, etc) and adds personality to your conversation.
Emojis “lighten” the mood. If someone texted something that could be seen as mean or rude (like sending ‘K’ as a response is considered rude but pair it with an emoji and you’re not perceived as being rude), then an emoji would help make it seem friendlier.
One recent study found that using smiley face emoticons when delivering negative feedback to employees improved the chances of that feedback being accepted, so long as the feedback itself was specific. Other research found that students could be made more willing to participate in online classes when emoticons were used in online discussion groups.
Emojis can be used to display emotions, happenings, diversity, and more. Emojis have even been adapted to help kids talk about or describe abuse or other situations they might experience or be a part of. It helps people talk about situations that might be stigmatized in our society and talk about it plainly. There are a range of abuse emojis to convey domestic abuse and seek help.
The range of emojis available:
Starting with the instantly recognizable thousands of emojis and emoticons have emerged, conveying a diverse and complex array of emotions and concepts. And researchers are now realising that emoticons may hold a power over us that we didn’t realise – when we use them to communicate, they can transform our decisions and behaviour in unexpected ways.
The Unicode consortium incorportes new emoji into latest Unicode releases and apple and android have emoji keyboard support. Every new Unicode release now comes with hundreds of emojis.
So for emoji enthusiasts there’s always room for a new emoticon. New ways to express. New ways to have fun.
Emojis have become so ubiquitous that now there is a World Emoji Day and an emojipedia as well!
You could send a simple smiley emoji and trust that it will be interpreted correctly across the globe. The language of emoticons articulates feelings in a universal way.
But it is not true of all emojis. Different cultures differ in their usage and interpretation of emojis. How people use emojis and what they use them to signify often varies by your age, gender, location and even social class.
But the biggest problem with emoji is that they still don’t communicate things as accurately as words can. Some emoji can mean different things to separate groups of people. So it’s always better to exercise caution when interacting with members of a new culture.
But there’s no denying the universality of these cute fellas. The popular emojis reveal that emojis are a universal language and the language of the heart, face and hands are widely accepted across cultures. Half of all the text on Instagram has atleast one emoji and Instagram has emojineers to study emojis! Instagram even allows hashtag search by emoji.
Even with such widespread adoption, there are those who HATE emojis. That’s hate with all caps. And usually these are people who are in love with words. The lit majors mostly. They love using a rich vocabulary of words to express how hey feel. Books are full of them, right? Full of various characters, describing characters in great detail, their thought process, how they feel and it’s valid that they hate emojis. The world can have two kinds of people. It’s ok.
Increases emoji usage has reduced the usage of internet slangs but replaced text in many places.
“It is a rare privilege to observe the rise of a new language,” Thomas Dimson, a software engineer on Instagram’s data team, said in a company blog post on Friday. “Emoji are becoming a valid and near-universal method of expression in all languages.”
More and more people, of all cultures and age groups are getting comfortable using emojis are are deriving a lot of value and fun. With 6 billion emoticons or stickers flying around the world every day can we just say that emojis are a texter’s best friend?