๐Ÿ“๐Ÿ›ซ๐Ÿคณ๐Ÿ›ฌ๐Ÿ—ฟ? ๐Ÿ˜ณ!!!

Emojis. In todayโ€™s online environment they are everywhere. We may not have realized it, but since Apple added an emoji keyboard to its iOS software in 2011 emojis have slowly but surely become an inescapable, dare I say integral part of our daily lives.ย ๐Ÿ˜‚ย has replaced LOL.ย ๐Ÿ˜ณย has replaced OMG. In some cases,ย ๐Ÿ˜˜ย has even replaced “I love you”!

source3Today, 92 percent of active internet users use emojis. Almost half of all Instagram comments contain an emoji. Moms love emojis. Kids love emojis. Sony Pictures produced an (consensually terrible) Emoji Movie in 2017! So whats up with these things? Why are they so popular? What are we doing with them?

By most standards, emojis are just a fun and goofy way to get your point across. But what if they are much more than that? Here’s what I’m trying to say, and it’s going to sound ridiculous so bear with me: Could emojis be a regression toward a new, universal spinoff of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics?giphy30

It’s Already Here!

No, were not speaking in a language of emojis just yet, but emojis definitely have more influence than they probably should. In multiple instances in the past few years, emojis have been the deciding factor in legal cases. In 2015, a judge was asked to rule on the meaning of “:-P” as it pertained to an online stalking and harassment lawsuit. In this case, the judge ruled that an emoticonย โ€œdoes not materially alter the meaning of the text message.โ€ However, in 2017 a court in Israel ruled a set of emojis to be legally binding. A couple sent a message to a property owner about an ad for an apartment saying:

โ€œGood morning ๐Ÿ˜Š ย we want the house ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿ‘ฏ โœŒ๏ธโ˜„๏ธ ๐Ÿฟ๏ธ ๐Ÿพ ย just need to go over the detailsโ€ฆWhen suits you?โ€

The landlord pulled the ad and then the couple disappeared. The property owner sued for reliance and was awarded the equivalent of $2200. The court ruled:

Theโ€ฆtext message sent by Defendantโ€ฆincluded a smiley, a bottle of champagne, dancing figures and more. These icons convey great optimism. Although this message did not constitute a binding contract between the parties, [it] naturally led to the Plaintiffโ€™s great reliance on the Defendantsโ€™ desire to rent his apartmentโ€ฆThese symbols, which convey to the other side that everything is in order, were misleading.โ€

Beyond their legal implications, the beauty of emojis is that they’re universally understood. Although I had to translate the message from that case, you knew what the emojis meant, didn’t you? Wherever we are in the world, we’re able to understand facial expressions.ย ๐Ÿขย is a turtle no matter where you go. Emojis bring these universal principles to text. A recent study out of Bangor University in the UK found that 72% of 18-25 year olds find it easier to communicate through emoji than written word. With emojis, I can communicate with almost anyone, without knowing a letter in their alphabet. Finally a universal language! Obviously we would lose certain complexities of written language, but the Egyptians did it, so why can’t we!

You can’t be serious?

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Okay, no I’mย  not serious. I’m pulling your leg a little bit here. It’s pretty unrealistic to think that we could communicate completely through emojis in written language. Johnathan Jones with The Guardian argued that emojis are a huge step backward for humanity, and that we could be losing the refined language of Shakespeare. I think that’s a little bit extreme. Emojis aren’t going to replace English any time soon. They’re really nothing like hieroglyphics to begin with. Hieroglyphics contain phonograms, logograms, and determinatives. Yes they limited linguistic advancement, but they were a lot more than pictures. Jones is right, people are going to use emojis to express themselves over text, but those people probably aren’t Shakespeare to begin with. The great writers of the world will continue to compose beautiful poetry. It’s going to be okay, Johnathan.

lifebuzz-6153041d1376ea55927a08583cf4c5ce-limit_2000Emojis don’t need to overwhelm our language, but my hope is that they can play a supporting role. We live in a world where we write now more than ever before. Without tone and inflection, text messages can be terribly misunderstood. Emojis are there to give us the security blanket we need when letters alone aren’t enough.

There appear to be practical uses for emojis as well. A recent study foundย emoji-using push notifications are opened 85 percent more. The study says that this is because people react to them the same way they react to seeing peoples faces, so emojis tap into the emotional rather than the logical part of the brain. Not surprisingly, emojis using push notifications grew 163 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Although I wasn’t able to find much about emojis being collected for big data, I would imagine its only a matter of time before emojis are a dominant source of information collected on social media sites.

Hopefully you made it this far into the article without thinking I was completely full of nonsense. Although emojis are not hieroglyphics, it’s funny to think that we are returning to using picture messages 3000 years later in any fashion. Slang comes and goes in the English language all of the time, but I would imagine that by nature of their practicality emojis have a bit more staying power than “Far out!” or “Tubular!” But who am I to say…ย ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

10 comments

  1. Interesting post! I especially like how you described emoji’s as taking a “supporting role”. I totally agree. On the one hand, I think emojis are really useful in helping to convey emotion through text. That said, I also think they’re becoming increasingly over-used (as evidenced by the Israeli landlord’s lawsuit). However, that’s just my opinion and it will be interesting to what sort of trajectory, or staying power, emoji use has in our language.

  2. kylepdonley · ·

    I agree that any theory that emojis will erode the English language is a bit alarmist. I have yet to include am emoji in any serious writing pieces whether it be a case study or creative writing. Emojis are intended for colloquial communication and I think they have a lot of value there. Our brains are hard-wired to immediately understand colors, shapes, and symbols more readily than words. We are social animals and evolutionarily that means eye contact and body language. If you want to talk about something that has been lost with technology, the feeling of an emotional connection has been lost with the proliferation of texting as a primary means of communication. As someone in a long-term, long-distance relationship with my loved one 3,000 miles away I am very grateful for the fact that I can send a wink or kiss when words just won’t cut it.

  3. katietisinger · ·

    Wow, really interesting post Jake! I find it amazing the staying power emojis have had. When they first came out, I thought they may be a bit of a fad and fade out eventually, but here we are, and my grandfather still sends me an emoji with every text I receive from him. I found your information on the increase in percentage of people who open push notifications when it includes an emoji fascinating. I have never thought about the fact that this could be related to innate human nature and tapping into the emotional side of the brain. I wonder if the creators of emojis planned it this way? I also wonder how Bitmoji is going to cut into, or has cut into, emoji use, and what the future of emojis could be?

  4. The โ„๏ธ ๐ŸŒŸ ๐Ÿ”ฆ โšช on the mountain ๐ŸŒ™ ๐ŸŒ . ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป a๐Ÿ‘ฃ to ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ‘€. A ๐Ÿฐ of ๐Ÿ˜ข, and it ๐Ÿ‘€ likeโ˜๏ธ๏ธ the ๐Ÿ‘‘. The ๐Ÿ’จ is ๐Ÿบ like this ๐ŸŒ€ โ„๏ธ โ˜”๏ธ ๐Ÿ . ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป keep it in, โ˜๏ธ ๐Ÿ’ก โ˜๏ธ๏ธ tried. ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป let ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ‘ซ in,๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป let ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ‘ซ ๐Ÿ‘€. ๐Ÿ the ๐Ÿ‘ ๐Ÿ‘ง ๐Ÿ‘‡ always have to ๐Ÿ. ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป, don’t ๐Ÿ‘, ๐Ÿšซ let ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ’ก. Well now ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ‘ซ ๐Ÿ’ก. ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—,, ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—,,๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป โœŠ it back anymore. ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—,, ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—, turn โœˆ๏ธ and ๐Ÿ”จ the ๐Ÿšช. โ˜๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿšซ care, what ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ‘ซ going to ๐Ÿ‘„, let the โ˜”๏ธ โšก โ„๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜ก on, the โ„๏ธ โ›„๏ธ ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป bothered โ˜๏ธ๏ธ anyway. It’s ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜‚ how some โœˆ๏ธ ๐Ÿš† makes everything ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿœ. And the ๐Ÿ˜ฑ that once ๐Ÿ‘ฎ me, ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป get toโ˜๏ธ๏ธ at all. It’s ๐Ÿ•“ to ๐Ÿ‘€ whatโ˜๏ธ๏ธ can do. To ๐Ÿ“ the ๐Ÿ“Š and ๐Ÿ”จ through. ๐Ÿšซ ๐Ÿ‘ , ๐Ÿšซ ๐Ÿ‘Ž, ๐Ÿšซ ๐Ÿ‘ฎ for โ˜๏ธ๏ธ. โ˜๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿƒ. ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—,, ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—., โ˜๏ธ๏ธ am โ˜๏ธ with the ๐ŸŒ€ and ๐ŸŒŒ. ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—,, ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—..๐Ÿ‘‡ ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป ๐Ÿ‘€ โ˜๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜ญ . ๐Ÿ‘‰ โ˜๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿšถ, and ๐Ÿ‘‰ โ˜๏ธ๏ธ stay. Let theโšก โ„๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜ก on. โ˜๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿ’ช โ„๏ธ through the ๐ŸŒ€ into the ๐ŸŒŽ.โ˜๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿ‘ค is ๐ŸŒ€ in โ„๏ธ โ›„๏ธ fractals all ๐Ÿ”. And 1๏ธโƒฃ๐Ÿ’ก ๐Ÿ’Ž like an โ„๏ธ ๐Ÿ“ข. โ˜๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป ๐Ÿƒ back, the past is in the past. ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—,,๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—,. And โ˜๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿš€ like the ๐Ÿ’” of ๐ŸŒŒ. ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—,, ๐Ÿ‘ it ๐Ÿš—.. That ๐Ÿ’ is ๐Ÿšซ. Here โ˜๏ธ๏ธ ๐Ÿšถ, in the ๐Ÿ”ฆ of โ˜€๏ธ. Let the โšก โ„๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜ก on, the โ„๏ธ โ›„๏ธ ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿป bothered โ˜๏ธ๏ธ anyway.

    …this seems a bit excessive and I don’t think anyone would be able to guess this song from the use of these emojis…but yes I do think emojis are a nice addition to messages, but definitely not in the professional sense just yet.

    1. Took me a minute, but now I see it! “Let It Go,” from Frozen!

  5. profgarbusm · ·

    Interesting take on emojis and a very thoughtful post!
    Never thought that people would consider Emoji’s a step-back, as I’ve always seen them as a sort of compromise/ way of conveying emotion that we are normally able to do in conversation but cannot do over text. 93% of communication is non verbal, 55% of which is body language and 28% of which is tone. I definitely think emotions are a positive way of communicating emotion if not at least tone, as texting can be very difficult to discern on its own!

  6. oliverhowe14 · ·

    This is an interesting take on this phenomenon.
    I, like most people, am an avid emoji user. I don’t even realize it but when I look back at chats I realize that maybe a third of my texts involve some emoji or another. I do not think that they are degrading the human language though. I feel like they help to convey additional meaning that text cannot. For example, my mom texts me saying, “k.” all the time and it seems like she’s mad. But when she just sends a thumbs up emoji, it seems fine. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

  7. To be honest, I don’t use emojis too often, still I am a fan of them. They’re a fun and interactive way to convey emotion to the receiver in a way that words sometimes cannot. Like you said, Jake, hieroglyphics limited linguistic advancement, however, I don’t see emojis as a limiting form of communication. I don’t see emojis as a replacement of any language at all. Instead, they are a unique form of communication. Aside from legal implications, I believe emojis are harmless to society!

    1. P.s. Loved this post, Jake! What a creative way to analyze emojis. I would have never considered comparing them to hieroglyphics, but that does not mean I find your view crazy! I find it rather convincing!

  8. I agree wholeheartedly with this approach. While I definitely see emojis overused (e.g. my mom), I do find it really helpful to add the emotional content of messages that are often lost in words. A well placed emoji can help clarify the intent of a statement.

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