We need to communicate, it’s how we get things done, through building meaningful relationships and connections. But humans think in images, not words. Language helps to define us but it also limits and contains us. Images and symbols bypass these limitations, as visual communication enables us to share our thoughts, feelings and ideas more easily. The continuing rise in the popularity of emoji’s is testament to this.
What are Emoji’s?
Emojis are images that express an emotion, idea or concept. The translation of emoji roughly means picture. It’s not a language but a visual form of communication that adds to a text-based approach. Driven by the human need to share not only our words but how we’re feeling. An emoji needs no explanation.
Words alone won’t do
Do you remember when you had to be careful how you wrote a text message in case the recipient misunderstood what you meant? Sometimes no matter how hard you tried you’d still unintentionally cause offence or misunderstanding. Words alone don’t allow us to give full expression to what we’re trying to say, unless we spend ages and many words clarifying. Defeating the purpose of text messaging, instant messages etc. What was missing from texts was the emotion and ability to convey how we felt quickly, easily and universally. Emojis help to remedy this by expressing the meaning and context of what the author is saying. According to a survey frequent users feel emojis, express their feelings more accurately than words. ( 84% of female / 75% of male).
I’m not surprised at the popularity of emojis, how they’ve quickly become a part of common culture. To the point that in 2015 The Oxford Dictionaries made the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ the word of the year! We continually look for better ways to communicate, express, and share thoughts and feelings. That’s exactly what emoticons, as a form of visual communication, allow us to do. Texting is a popular form of communication and communication improves when there is deeper social connection to others. We build this by increasing the disclosure of personal details, making it easier to relate to each other as individuals, rather than according to our roles or perceived status. This type of communication builds trust and breaks down barriers. Emojis with the range of symbolic emotions allow us to do this very quickly and easily using a digital device. Universally understood and transcending most cultural barriers they allow us to convey thoughts, feelings and ideas in an instant. The same principle is at work when magazine picture collage is used as a tool for self-expression and personal development. The obvious difference being that the images chosen from magazines convey personal meaning based on life experiences, memories and values. Rather than being universally understood. However, the principle of using images to convey thoughts, feelings and ideas is the same. Collage as a tool for visual communication is very powerful, enabling you to express yourself on a deeper level, raising self-awareness. Because the pictures chosen are personal, sharing the meaning of theses images creates trust as people disclose something of themselves. Building better, and more meaningful relationships. Images allow us to do this in a more meaningful way than text alone, which is why I believe the use of emojis is only set to increase.
Emojis have soared in popularity over the past few years, no longer a teenage girl phenomenon they are now also being used by companies for marketing. Available as standard across our digital devices the emoji library continues to grow and grow. Now the inventors of Swiftkey, purchased by Microsoft in February, have come up with Swiftmoji. Like predictive text, it offers suggestions for an emoticon based on what you’ve been typing. Over time it will also learn which ones you use regularly and will give predictions based on this. As the emoji library continues to expand this app will no doubt prove very popular. For me this move is a natural progression, reacting to the consumers need to share our feelings, thoughts and ideas visually.