The days of communicating with each other using plain old text alone are long gone. Plain text never was quite enough for us. Even in the good old days of Nokia 3310s and a 160 character SMS limit, we’d still find a way to string characters together to form images. It’s the way we are built. We are visual creatures. 30% of our brains are engaged in processing visual information and this has resulted in 63% percent of social media being made up of images. We just connect with images better, whether they are worth a thousand words or are just pictures of grumpy cats. They are more emotionally appealing to us, and we use them to express emotion better- for what is communication without the emotion? It is just plain difficult to express nuance of emotion with text alone. How can you know if someone is being completely serious or tongue-in-cheek without the visual cues that come with face to face conversation? It would be tedious to have to describe your intention every time you typed something, not to mention a complete waste of space. How important is it to speak with pictures(emojis) to express exactly how to feel?   

Emojis are pictographs created by the Japanese in the late 1990s. They come from the Japanese words for “picture” and “character” and were used to denote common expressions people made and things they were familiar with. It was genius. Emojis enabled whole new levels and nuances of communication that were just not available before.

There’s a whole generation of people, who grew up with online messaging platforms like Yahoo! and MSN Messenger for whom emojis and emoticons are a second language. In fact, according to Professor Evans of Bangor University, emoji is the fastest growing language in the UK.

“As a visual language emoji has already far eclipsed hieroglyphics, its ancient Egyptian precursor which took centuries to develop,” he said.

In the same report, a survey by TalkTalk Mobile stated that 72% of 18 to 25-year-olds said they found it easier to put their feelings across in emoji icons than in text. In 2013, answering the question “Do you use stickers or emoji in message apps?” 74% of people in the U.S. and 82% in China responded that they have. Emojis are a common inclusion in every main communication platform today, whether it be WhatsApp or Facebook or Skype or SnapChat. There are 1,601 emoji characters supported by platforms today and 6 billion emoticons sent a day. That’s a lot of emotion. Nearly half the captions and comments on Instagram contain emojis. Do you think emoticons is a language of its own?  

Emojis have been part of popular culture since 2013, with Katy Perry’s music video “Roar” made completely using emojis.

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