Since the dawn of time, humankind has used images to communicate; from prehistoric cave paintings to Egyptian hieroglyphics, pictures have long been used to tell stories.
And, along with the meme and the GIF, the 21st century has given us the ever-evolving emoji – that little icon that peppers social media posts and has become such a cultural icon it even has its own awareness day (July 17th, if you’re interested).
Emojis were first created in 1998, by Japanese phone engineer Shigetaka Kurita, who named them after the Japanese words for “e” (picture) and “moji” (character).
At first, they were fairly simple – a smiley or sad face, perhaps a wink – but the emojis of 2019 cover pretty much every human emotion imaginable, as well as animals, foods, buildings and many many more.
As anyone who’s ever lain awake ruminating over an email from your boss or a text from a friend knows, it can be tricky to gauge someone’s tone in written communication. A grinning face or a thumbs up is an easy way to add a little emotion and help soften even the most blunt of messages.
And as uptight Brits, we’re often uncomfortable with overt displays of praise or affection – but a smiley face or a heart emoji gets the message across without the need for any of that. Research has even shown that emojis can make workers more productive by making it easier for bosses to give quick and unambiguous praise.
Of course, as with any language there are pitfalls – thumbs up is an offensive gesture in countries such as Iran and Italy – and the real meanings can switch over time (aubergine, anyone?), but these are small prices to pay, and just require a little forethought, same as any other form of communication.
So, while emoji use may be frowned upon in some circles, we definitely think it’s added an extra dimension to the way we use language – indeed, is it any different from how our ancestors communicated thousands of years ago?
Looking to tell your story with more words than emojis? We can help with that! Throw us a bone on 01325 486666 or email us at email@example.com