emojis

Digital communications have always been somewhat socially handicapped. The recent trend of emojis merges immediacy with intimacy in such a way that drains context and strips nuance, unlike the conventional written and typed communiqués.

Remember the time when everyone was worried that text-speak was killing the English language? To my surprise, at one point high school examiners in some of the places even started allowing students to write essays with the shortened words as they were afraid that the students couldn’t spell. And now people are saying that emoji is butchering the English language, but I totally disagree. These pictographs have extended the English language, especially among the millennials and have drastically improved the way we communicate online.

Emojis are more than emotional punctuation, they adjoin context, facilitate wordplay, add nuance, and let you speak your mind while sending a message. They add a tone-of-voice to a medium that has no voice and no tone.

These small symbols were first invented in Japan by the cellphone network, using these symbols as a way to send pictographs between phones. They were really popular in Japan for a number of years. But the western world came to know about this when Apple Inc. involved the first official emoji keyboard in iOS 5. In 2011, emoji were standardized for the first time by Unicode consortium as a part of Unicode 6.0.

Earlier in 2015, Oxford Dictionaries picked one emoji icon as the ‘word’ of the year.  The yellow smiley face, generally known as ‘face with tears of joy’, was the most widely used emoji of this year. It was the emoji that best described the mood, ethos and preoccupation of 2015. Judges at Oxford said that emoji embody a core aspect of being in a digital world that is emotionally expressive, visually driven and obsessively immediate. However, there are no plans to include these symbols in the dictionary.

Before these pictographs were invented people used their pixilated cousins, emoticons – a smiley face made with a colon, a hyphen and a closing parenthesis. Or maybe, without the hyphen, if that’s your thing.

It’s no surprise that millennials have embraced emojis as a part of digital communication. They are superficial, ambiguous, and cute, perfectly suited to a generation that circulates a guide to “being deep”, and sends away “deep meaningful conversations” as “DMC’s.”