Emojis: Fad Or New Frontier?

December 9, 2013

emojiEmojis have taken over the world!

Well not my world, I have a 2011 model Android device. All is see is “□□□□” and group message come to me as separate text messages. (Safe to say I never know what’s happening).

Here’s your history lesson for the day: Emojis originated in Japan in the 1990s (Honestly, the ’90s had EVERYTHING) and Apple included them in its iOS 5 operating system in 2011. And now you’ll find the word “emoji” in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Growing up, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand the evolution of our laziness communication with each other. Having an AOL email account in the 5th grade, using number keys to text, and staying up late on AIM (on the only family desktop computer, I might add) with usernames like bsktballchica5 and DiVaGuRL12, the way I communicated with my friends and family changed with each new platform.

Not being on the emoji train myself, what caught my attention to these little nuggets was the Katy Perry Lyric Video for “Roar.” Her use of texting the song using mainly the characters between her friends hit the nail on the head for her audience.

Then seeing a post about the Emoji Art & Design Show in NYC December 12-14 made mestop emoji&.

Are emoji’s really this important? Is this more than a smart phone fad?

Upon further investigation, I have to admit the pieces in the exhibition are really cool and creative. The organizers of the show explain how “In today’s visually oriented culture, which increasingly communicates through images rather than text, emoji comprise a kind of ‘visual vernacular,’ a language that conveys humor, ambiguity and personality as well as meaning.”

They go on to describe how the visual form of communication is not a new phenomenon. We communicate visually through artwork, and see it in hieroglyphics and cave paintings. Not saying that 100 years from now scientist are going to find buildings with emoji painted messages on the wall, but it’s a good point and a great reason to celebrate people’s creativity with a new medium. Emoji’s are a universal language.

Shift Key by Maya Ben-Ezer

Shift Key by Maya Ben-Ezer

Having an English major for a mother, I have to give a shout out to the English language. Nothing can beat a well written message; whether it’s in a simple email, for a graduate school paper, or a blog post. It would be easy to say that the written word is continually under attack by we millennials, but I have to disagree. If anything, I believe it creates a new challenge to write and create messaging in more creative and interesting ways to capture the attention of readers and your audience. It also allows for the integration of new forms of communication and understanding.

The Emoji Art show celebrates this form of expression, which has touched everyone with a smart phone across the world. However, I’ll get a lot of eye rolls at Christmas dinner if I don’t caution the trap that emoji’s, abbreviation, and short-hand messages can cause. Use your emoji’s wisely, and from our lovely friend lolcat: “SRSLY, IZ CALLD GRAMMAR EVRYONE!”