By Gabrielle Peearanda
How did we ever survive without the emoji?
Ah, yes. We used words. We have progressed from scrawling pictographs on cave walls to crafting thoughtful statements on smartphones.
But our dependence on emojis has regressed human communication.
Years ago, when AOL Instant Messenger was in its prime and texting was not widely available to the masses, emoticons were excellent supplements to virtual conversations. Of course, users lacked the variety of emoticons on AIM that are now on everyone’s phones, forcing people to still depend on words to share thoughts and feelings.
It is not so anymore.
I texted a friend a link to a Twitter account I thought she would find entertaining. She replied with the new robot head emoji. No verbal expression of gratitude, no words at all. I equated this response to the despised “K.”
For some, emojis really are essential to communication. They can add context to texts and even clarify messages that might otherwise be misconstrued through text.
However, emojis are not replacements for words, especially not words of courtesy.
Although the thumbs up emoji serves as an excellent symbol of comprehension or agreement, it is not a substitute for “thank you.”
With the recent Apple iOS 9.1 update, more than 150 emojis were added to the already inflated and overused emoji keyboard.
The latest update features the highly anticipated taco and middle finger emojis along with the many other unexpected additions, like the unicorn and floating man (as if we would not have survived much longer without these).
Those who did not install iOS 9.1 will most likely have to update in the near future to avoid any awkward explanations as to why they cannot see the emojis their friends sent.
In April, Apple released iOS 8.3, which included racially diverse emojis. While many praised the change, Paige Tutt, a writer for The Washington Post, saw it as “problematic.”
“Now in simple text messages and tweets, I have to identify myself racially,” said Tutt in her April 10 article. “What Apple has done is introduce race into everyday conversations where it doesn’t necessarily need to be.”
The supposed need for racially diverse emojis and our reactions to them say a great deal about society, but what users do with them will reveal much more in time.
Emojis are becoming as essential to our vocabulary as letters and numbers. Not only have emojis somehow maintained their novelty, but they also are being capitalized upon.
Pizza ordering used to be a laborious process with all its clicks and typing. (Surely, no one has time for that.) Domino’s Pizza aims to alleviate that stress. By sending the pizza emoji via text or tweet, users can literally order their favorite pizza at the click of, well, a pizza.
Just when society thought Bitly and other URL minimizers had revolutionized the way links were shared, the emoji took over that arena.
Linkmoji turns URLs into emoji links.
The proliferation of the emoji is actually very impressive but unnecessary.
Emojis are the new “LOL” and “LMFAO” of virtual communication annoyances. “LOL” and “LMFAO” are expressions of laughter that are commonly acknowledged as filler phrases or mere affectations of laughter.
The most ironic aspect of the rise of emojis is when, instead of using the heart eyes emoji, someone writes “heart eyes emoji.” Apparently the emoji itself is not obvious enough to express visual pleasure, so some people must use words to describe a pictograph that was used to replace or supplement words in the first place.
Emojis are helpful when paired with single-word responses or ending conversations. Certain phrases imply a harsh tone that an emoji can abate. But with this, I foresee a future of snarky, underhanded comments offset with emojis that could ultimately add more confusion to texting.
The middle finger emoji will probably be very useful in the future, but nothing beats a perfectly crafted, pithy verbal insult.
After all, emojis, like words, are just as important as the meaning we ascribe to them. Perhaps that is the charm of the emoji: its meaningfulness yet lack of definition. Unfortunately, society may never be able to look at an eggplant the same way again.
Monica Lopez / The Poly Post
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