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Have emojis changed the world? Show more Show less
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In just two decades, emoji has become ‘the fastest growing language in history’. But are there more complex implications to their popularity? With more than 92% of internet users now using emojis, and billions used every day, do the simple digital pictograms have wider implications for society, relationships and even the way we're hardwired?

Yes, emojis have transformed human relationships. Show more Show less

Emojis have changed the way that people perceive and respond to each other.
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Emojis define and restrict emotional range in communication

There are a limited number of emojis. Therefore, as people increasingly use them to express emotions, their emotional range becomes defined (and restricted) by available emojis.
behaviour emojis emotions humans love psychology relationships

The Argument

Emojis are a vital part of precise and direct communication in 2020, but there is a chance that their pervasive use is a nod to exactly what we are avoiding: Vulnerability. If emojis say it all for us, why use our own words and risk more than we need to? We commit to expressing an emotion or perhaps an atmosphere with an emoji, but the "why" of our feelings, and the core of what is going on internally, has no place in this clean exchange. Linguist Ben Zimmer explains that the prevalence of emojis makes sense; we live in a world of global connection and our loved ones might be far away, so we use emojis to fill in this emotional absence we sense in the written word. However, emojis cannot get us as far as our words, he warns, and we might think we can skip the emotional labor part of explaining our inner life. A sentence provides more context and demonstrates effort.[1] According to Time, emojis might actually be allowing us to make snap judgments of each other without going deeper. Zoosk, an online dating platform, revealed data that men who have emoticons in their profiles receive significantly less messages while women with emoticons receive far more, which might unfortunately suggest that there is something less socially and culturally desirable about a man expressing emotional effort than a woman. Such assumptions limit communication and understanding.[2] An article from Psychologist World suggests that emojis actually “restrict” our ability to communicate rather than enrich our words. We have only a few emotional emoticon options to choose from – so everything that doesn’t fall into those categories (complex, nuanced emotions) falls by the wayside. This does not mean we stop feeling whatever it is we are experiencing, but it might lose its place in expression.[3]

Counter arguments

The priorities of emoji-users are efficiency and clarity, not necessarily emotional depth. When one needs to explain a complex emotion, they will likely do so. Whenever emoticons can make the conversation easier, however, they will be employed. According to The Guardian, the Aloft Hotel in New York uses emoji to be able to connect with their customers and understand their needs. This is becoming a trend; many companies are using emoji as menus or for quick communication, like Domino’s and London food delivery service BurgerBurger. At Aloft, customers can essentially text codes, like the emoji combination of a banana and a water droplet, in order to signal room service that will bring food for a hangover or for snacks. The hotel is able to use emojis for efficiency; they cater to their customers’ specific needs by speaking a universal language.[4] CEO of 8x8, Vik Verma, encourages emoji use in the workplace in order to avoid miscommunication. He explains that even punctuation can imply a different tone in written messages, and since his company is fast-paced, a lack of clarity disrupts progress. Emojis do not take away from his employees’ ability to communicate; his office uses the characters for transparency of thought.[5]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://newrepublic.com/article/118562/emoticons-effect-way-we-communicate-linguists-study-effects
  2. https://newsfeed.time.com/2014/01/03/men-if-this-data-proves-women-hate-emoticons-will-you-finally-stop-sending-them/
  3. https://www.psychologistworld.com/emotion/emoticons-emojis-emotion-psychology
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/oct/22/new-york-hotel-launches-emoji-room-service
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bryanrobinson/2019/09/07/emojis-an-essential-tool-for-innovative-business-communication-really/#74b9460fc9e6

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 25 Jun 2020 at 21:31 UTC

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