The Emoji

Has the emoji been helpful or harmful to us in communicating our thoughts and emotions?

Emojis—we all use them, or at least a form of them, when we text, post to Instagram and now even on Zoom. Whether we use actual emojis or resort to keyboard punctuation in order to make a symbol, they convey our thoughts and emotions when we are not face-to-face with others. 

In many ways, the emoji has helped more than it has harmed us. Say you are texting someone about something that can be taken two very different ways and you want to make sure they understand you correctly. The other person is not able to hear your tone through a text, so you send a smiley face or heart emoji at the end of your message to let them know you are just joking. Emojis quickly express feelings or thoughts that would otherwise take many words to explain. They are convenient and speak for you, even when you yourself can’t. 

On the other hand, emojis have stunted other aspects of our ability to communicate. Body language is a big indicator to others when expressing what we truly mean, even when our words happen to say the opposite. For instance, if you ask someone how they are in person and they say “ok,” they may in fact look sad and walk away—you immediately know that something isn’t right. However, you don’t have access to body language through a text. The other person could reply the same way (perhaps even with two smiley faces), and you would never know how they really felt unless you managed to ask them in person. This is the kind of communication we miss out on when using emojis, and indeed, in texting in general.

However, their pros outweigh their cons. I use emojis all of the time – to tell someone happy birthday, for example, by loading a text up with balloon, present, and cake emojis. One time in particular, I remember, I was texting someone I had not spoken to for a while and wanted to catch up with. I used a couple of smiley face emojis to imitate my optimistic attitude, in the hopes that they could see me smiling through the phone. They received my message well and we proceeded to have a great conversation, emojis continuing to appear here and there. In both of these instances, emojis helped clarify and enhance the message I was trying to communicate to the other person.

At the end of the day, I believe emojis are a helpful tool for communicating our thoughts and emotions more clearly. After all, they make texting more fun, and can put a smile on your face.

Author: Katarina Quintana|Opinions Editor

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