Emoji’s Are Changing How We Communicate

Emoji’s Are Changing How We Communicate

Love them ❤️or hate them 💔, emojis are everywhere, spreading through our texts, social media posts, and emails. They’re in our inboxes 📧, on the big screen 🎥, and even being used as evidence 💬 in courtrooms. Local tech blogger, Kevin Andrews, is with us this morning to weigh in on what the experts are saying. Don’t let the cuteness of the pixel-sized peaches 🍑, smiley faces 😆, and clapping hands 👏 fool you, emojis are rapidly 🕔🕗🕣changing the nature of how we communicate.

Well, it looks as if images are becoming the new mode of expression and it is clear the social media generation has revolutionized the way people communicate.  Just to put it in context; 1.2 trillion photos were taken on smartphones in the past year, and five billion emojis were sent. This growing prevalence of emojis is due in large part to the increasingly digital nature of how people communicate.  

Mobile communications tend to be rapid, and as the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Because a great deal of casual or superficial communication is conducted on the go or in tandem with other activities, visual icons like emojis function as a convenient shorthand that minimizes the time and effort required to communicate. For many researchers in the field of communication, the emoji also help to reproduce characteristics of human communication that are present in the real world, in the digital environment.  

It looks as if seventy per cent of the meaning of an oral conversation comes from nonverbal cues and so emojis add personality to the text and generate empathy among users. A standard text message lacks the emotional context compared to when you’re communicating face to face, or even writing something more long form where you can be more expressive using language. Emojis can help add a bit of the nuance that’s missing from short, rapid, digital communications.

As a visual form of communication, emojis have the potential to be more accessible, or universal, than traditional alphabetic scripts. Emojis make a direct link between the written form and the object or emotion being referenced. It can also provide long-lasting meaning worldwide; depending on the color and type of emoji, it can have a different meaning depending on the culture and times.  

Because emoji usage is global, some resonate differently across cultures and within cultures. For instance, countries like Cuba, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, the horn emoji is a lucky sign and it is used to avoid the evil eye and bad luck. But it has a second meaning and when the horn emoji is directed at a particular person in these countries, it means that the person’s partner had cheated in their relationship.  

Also, you should not use the waving hand emoji when chatting with Chinese people who are located in Mainland China as it is interpreted as breaking off the friendship.  

Finally, you often show agreement or approval by using the thumbs up emoji but in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, it means ”sit on it,” which is a very obscene gesture.

So while you might be tempted to toss a few winks 😉, ducks 🐥, or champagne bottles 🍾 after your next text message, emoji’s should be used with care keeping in mind who you are sending them to.

I think the use of emoji’s means that the days of English as the defacto global language may be coming to an end, as connected users the world over adopt a more visual form of communication. While more than 1.5 billion people speak English, 3.2 billion use the internet, three quarters of them through smartphones equipped with emojis.



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