A play on words, exploring the emoji culture


These pictures may not be worth a thousand words, but emoticons or emojis are a popular trend for conveying messages. If anyone has received a reply he or she wasn’t expecting from a text or email, it’s evident intention does not translate well across the illuminated screens like handwritten letters or face-to-face dialogue. The archetype of levity in communication, emojis buffer, joke and exaggerate for argument’s sake. Some analysts are curious if emojis do a disservice to communication.

A new take on an old language

Emojis are the upgraded version of  the parenthesis, colon and back slash-composed faces via type — complete with a large variety of images and characters. Emojis can reference emotions and words in a serious or silly way.  Vyv Evans, Ph.D., addresses some of the concerns people have with emoji use and intelligence level of youth.

In research conducted by Evans, “80 [percent] of smartphone users are now regularly using these visual symbols in their text messaging, and over half of us are using emoji more than we did a year ago.” Some people fear that the human language is in danger of becoming nothing more than modern and meaningless hieroglyphics.

Evans continues, “In the spoken medium, gesture, body language and intonation provide a means of qualifying and nuancing the message conveyed by the words.” Evans enlightens readers by adding speech does not have spaces in-between words or periods to show the end of a sentence. “Rising versus falling pitch signals whether something is being marked as uncertain, or an assertion of fact.”  Emojis are not only able to help people express their emotions a little more clearly, but emojis may be able to say what others are afraid to.

Say what you need to say

In situations of domestic violence, abuse, addiction and depression, people of all ages will have difficulty finding a voice. There is an app available for individuals unable to voice their pain to friends or family. BRIS is a nonprofit Swedish organization, which runs a national helpline for children and teenagers. They have invented an app available to help teens and smartphone users voice abuse.

The app is titled Abused Emojis and has a variety of images of abuse and emotional pain in a serious manner. BRIS states that, “Abused Emojis app is part of our work to let children talk more freely about their situation.” This is only one example of how emojis can help more than hurt in the growing youth. For parents concerned with children over-using emojis, perhaps limit the amount of phone time when they are studying. Reach out to the teen and spend more time as a family before assuming the teen is incapable of speech due to emoji use.

Emojis are not the first time images have been used to express words; albeit a new approach, but not new. Giving children and teens a new form of expression can help them to become more creative and perhaps willing to share more of how they feel.

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