A Horrifying Case of Overabundant Emojis
With multiple emojis comes the scope of multiple errors.
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When I heard that a movie on emojis exists, a shiver went down my spine. In a world where we have more conversations online than offline, it reiterated my contempt for the ‘other’ keyboard.
I am your typical millennial who types into the usual WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and into the meme infested Instagram and Snapchat. I text all day, feigning my upkeep as a virtual social blue butterfly.
I hate calling people. Other than family, a couple of friends, and romantic interests, I seldom pick up phone calls. Social interaction on my smartphone is limited to the aforementioned apps, because I can reply whenever I want or ignore the notifications.
Ah, the wonders of technology! Except where it seems to go horribly wrong is with its overabundant emojis.
From Emoji Middle School to High School
Now, I am not a smiley hater, mind you. I do stick to my favourites or as I like to call them, the ‘classic emojis’. I started texting as a teenager, eager to please and generous with my use of the hopeful :) or the disappointed :(
Suddenly, we had graduated, thanks to an operating system update. The middle school of limited smilies on feature phones had to be left behind. We had to move on from a simpler time of a smile, a frown, and maybe a laugh — emotions that were enough for our animated moods.
In the emoji high school, we have the option to talk about our day and thoughts using symbols for hand gestures, clothing, animals, food, transportation, stationary, sports equipment and other inexplicable objects available in abundance.
Too many options can be crippling and some psychologists and economists have concluded that it can paralyse people or push them into making bad decisions. Research also shows that more the number of choices, less the satisfaction with one’s decision.
Miscommunication and Emotional Attyachar
When it comes to emojis, there is always a chance of miscommunication. An emoji that might seem appropriate to you, can seem overwhelming or underwhelming to another. The emoji is never merely an icon but comes with a set of meanings.
Sample this, I am introduced to a stranger and we exchange numbers. The same night, he texts me with a greeting. All is well until he sends me two different emojis in a single sentence, a plant and a fish. We aren’t even talking about sushi or gardening! It makes no sense.
Some may call me old school, but what happened to celebrating words? When did we become the sum total of pictures?
In some cases, emojis can be helpful. They are tools meant to make life easier through visualisation. But I find them unnecessary in a world where, because of the absurdity arising from using random emojis, one has to explain oneself in words anyway.
With multiple emojis comes greater responsibility and like autocorrect, emojis often make our life harder. How frustrated we feel when we don’t find the emoji we are looking for to convey a specific emotion.
The one-stop heart emoji that expressed affection and love has been made into multiple colours, leaving us mortals confused as to what each colour stands for. If this isn’t emotional attyachar (torture) then what is!
Keep It Simple, Yaar!
Apart from this there is also the question of vocabulary. The purpose of an emoji, which literally means ‘character picture’ (the Japanese word emoji takes the ‘e’ of ‘picture’ and ‘moji’ which means letter or character), is to make communication easier, but has it added any value to our shrinking vocabulary?
My problem with these seemingly innocent creatures of the digital textual input world became apparent as a teenager. I had sent a simple text to my boss and decided, last moment, to add a smiley to it. I wanted to make a smiley face but ended up sending a wink instead. I had swallowed the bitter pill of inappropriate typos.
This was even before the flora and fauna emojis arrived. I can only imagine what typo-horrors occur today!
Here’s my plea: Let’s keep it simple. In a colourful world, the old school charm of saying what you mean in words is what I prefer.
(The author describes herself as a “journalistic jocular juggler” who likes to “inhale food, exhale words, roam around, all the while fighting patriarchy”. She can be followed at @tanyadubey21 on Instagram.)
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Topics: Web Culture Emoji Emojis
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