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An emoji is worth a thousand words?

We talk less, we write more. Sort of. What do you mean with that? Are you being angry? Ironic? Perhaps you meant it in a condescending way?

Written communication often suffers from lack of eye contact, tone and nonetheless body language. Enter emojis.

 

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But do these popular icons help our written communication?

 

In a way, yes, but on the other heand following the massive change in our overall communication the simplicity of emojis has also become more than what it actually is. When comunicating and nonetheless debating on social media it has basically become a must to use emojis at the end of a statement. It partly does help with the irony and stuff like that, but the impact of emojis has become so big that almost any sentance not including enmojis bears a strife of negativity to it.

In many ways enojis do help our online communication, but generally looking they also slowly rob us of creative writing as well as of descriptive writing skills. Some might say that this kind of writing is not important in everyday communication, but I find it to be extremely important and of a much bigger impact that the likes of “OMG + emoji”.

A short well-welded and creative sentence can make you burst into tears form laughter or from sadness.

An emoji can pinpoint the gist and as such it does have its uses, but when discussing or communicating online, a piece-of-shit emoji ? will never have the same impact as if you describe the thought in bit more creative and complex manner. Regardless how banal the subject at hand might be.

The fact that we use emojis doesn’t mean that we are not good at using language and it doesn’t mean that we suck at it, but generally speaking the less we use something the less good at it we get. Using thimbs-down ? emoji any time we don’t like something won’t make us better at using language and most importantly it will never describe our dislike as well as if we’ve chose to use some words to describe our opinion. Such a description of disliking can give more depth and nuance to it and as such better explain the reason behind it.

 

At the same time we have ended up there where most of online posts not including emojis are perceived as potentially negative and ironic. “Was he being ironic? I don’t see the winking emoji ? anywhere? Is he serious or is this for fun? I can’t decide!”.
At some level emojis feel as the main indicator of the written word’s mood and tone and what does that say about the weight of the written word and a skill of expressing creatively?

Thumb-up ? and thumb-down ? emoji are very clear in their message and as such they are instant and extremely effective, but their depth is non-existent.

Emojis are handy and they can be useful, nonetheless when you need a quick simple answer or together with written elaboration, but relying largely on emojis in written communication is weak on several levels.

When used for what they were intended for, emojis are helpful and leave a positive stamp on written communication, but when they overtake a role they are not intended for, emojis lose their purpose.

 

Update:

Few months after this article was posted Apple announced the new version of operating system, iOS10. One of the new features of this OS is that the system recognizes which words in your messages are also available as emojis and marks then with yellow. What this does it basically lets you change some of the words you’ve already written into emojis. In many ways this function underlines and further strengthens most of the above-mentioned concerns. On top of it all, if you look at the flow in it it’s just pointless.

 

On a related note note:

If you are using this emoji on your social media posts, then stop doing that