Language is Crucial
You could call me a bit of a language-purist. In my defence, I was brought up that way. My mother always insisted that we used the appropriate words. Both my parents encouraged me to read as much as I wanted. I went to university where I studied English Language and Culture, part of which is Linguistics. What I’m trying to say here is that language is essential to me. Correctly using language is crucial to me. Something that has been bugging me for years now is how I feel the need to add emoticons to my written communication. Why do I need a small icon when I should be able to convey the same meaning with words? What’s wrong with me?
The First Emoticons
Let’s begin with an explanation of what I’m talking about here. Emoticons were invented only a few weeks after I was born in September 1982. According to Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Dr Scott E. Fahlman suggested that jokes and nonjokes be marked by two sets of characters we now recognise as standard emoticons: the smiley face : – ) and the frowning face : – (
Emojis were invented in 1999 by Shigetaka Kurita and were intended for a Japanese user base. No longer needing the constraints of a keyboard, emoji are pictographs of faces, objects and symbols. Right now these are used the most in popular culture.
Believe it or not, but there has been done ample academic research into the usage of emoji. One such study said the following: Results showed that emoticons are mostly used to express emotion, to strengthen a message, and to express humour. Furthermore, more emoticons were used in communication with friends than in communication with strangers, and more emoticons were used in a positive context than in a negative context.
Where another study said this: By accepting emojis as embodied stand-ins of interactants (i.e. nonverbal information that connects emotions and attitudes between senders and receivers), we can begin to correctly ascertain their enormous value as interpersonal tools within digital environments.
Both these studies stress the importance of both emoticons and emoji in Computer-Mediated Communication. For some reason or other, humans prefer to use images to express feelings or to emphasise a message.
More Emojis = Better at Sex
There was another issue that I had come across on Twitter, but one that I could hardly believe. I found the original academic study which held this statement:
Our findings suggest that emoji use with potential partners is associated with maintaining connection beyond the first date, and more romantic and sexual interactions over the previous year. This research provides evidence that emojis convey important affective information to potential partners, and are potentially associated with more successful intimate connection.
Short version: When you use more emoji, you’re better in bed.
Another quote from the same text:
In other words, we find that the use of emojis allows daters to communicate important affective information to potential partners which facilitates successful intimate connection and more romantic and sexual opportunities.
It’s a useful tool to show your potential partner how you feel. Even if you’re only chatting online, you’re still able to reach that deeper connection that you would want for an intimate relationship.
Maybe Not That Bad
I didn’t know emoji were this effective and even necessary. In a time where we communicate a lot in digital ways, we miss a lot of fundamental physical cues. Eye contact, looking away, facing down, these are are elements you don’t have while tapping at a keyboard. Or maybe you have them, but the other party can’t see them. That’s when you use emojis. And you should continue to use them.
I think I feel less guilty now about using them while chatting or even in the occasional business contact that I have. It’s just my way of expressing my deeper emotions. And now that I know the more emoticons I use, the better they’ll think I am in bed, let’s have at it: ???????