It’s strange to me that emojis have spread like wildfire. When you bring up the topic of emojis, it seems that people are both excited by emojis, but also have deep reservation. Yet somehow, they have spread throughout cultures around the world as a new, universal language.
There are Reasons to Hate Emojis 😡
- Emojis are juvenile.
- Emojis are twisted drug for People Pleasers. You can’t just say, “No, I can’t come to your party.” Even simple office emails get polluted with emojis so that all peoples are pleased.
- Emojis signal the decay of the language. “We started with cave drawings and hieroglyphics, we created great languages, and now we communicate again with pictures.”
There are Reasons to Love Emojis 😍
- Emojis are fun.
- Emojis allow for quick, creative communication.
- Emojis clarify when words cannot.
- Emojis grab attention without requiring much effort.
So when you consider arguments from both sides of the debate, it’s clear that both sides have valid points—both sides seem to be true. So the adoption of emojis should have been reserved and steady. Something that would happen gradually over time.
But that’s NOT what happened. Emojis spread into every element of communication, culture, and the moving pieces of our economy. How can we explain this?
Because Emojis Solved New Problems
Easily, adults today read 10x times more words per day than adults read 20 years ago. Think about it: in the late 1990s, we had the early World Wide Web. Relatively speaking, it was a handful of websites with limited content. Back then, work emails were swapped at a few per day. Reading the news, doing “real work,” all this happened in print. Adults held papers all day. This is why we had brief cases—to hold our papers.
Today we are overwhelmed with the written word. Websites! Social media! Emails! Apps! Messaging! I’m going to guess an average adult reads 40,000 words each day. All this flying across multiple screens through each minute of the day. This is unlike anything in human history.
Because it is impossible to comprehend such a volume of words, we need a new visual language to enhance what we already have. Emojis allow us to quickly grab attention and communicate emotion in a way that we never could before.
- Text messages come to life. 😋
- Email subject lines provoke curiosity. 👈
- Tweets have more impact. 🎯
Indeed, we should continue to safeguard our language. We should model reverence for literature. The great books written by great minds. We should continue our respect for the hand-written letter shared between friends. Let’s keep this alive.
But to wholly reject emojis is to reject reality. Like it or not, emojis are an evolution in how we communicate. It doesn’t [necessarily] signal that the written word and our society is doomed.
PS. It was spring of 2015, I had a blog that I never published because it was not well received. I love to talk about trends, and on the horizon I saw three big trends. So I shared the concept of the blog to a two bright interns still in college. I explained to them how problems change, so solutions change too. This is what motivates trends.
So I predicted that 1) Tiny Houses are going to be big. 2) Living in vans is going to be big. 3) And emojis that we enjoy in texts and on Instagram were going to spill over into everyday life.
They were notably uncomfortable. One intern pointed out that when you use an emoji in a text message, it makes you feel better. So she was using more and more emojis. But she was afraid to use an emoji in an email to a professor, or a text message to an adult. She was skeptical that emojis would would be adopted everywhere.
What about #vanlife and #tinyhouses? Those ideas were more than they could handle. 😕
I wish I would’ve clicked “Publish.”