Emojis and You

Emojis have taken over communication, and even the world, it seems. There are few things this day and age as popular and ubiquitous as emojis. From the popular poop pillow to the Emoji Movie, emojis have infiltrated our culture.

According to Swyft Media, 74 percent of people in the U.S. regularly use stickers, emoticons or emojis in their online communication, sending an average of 96 emojis or stickers per day.

All this adds up to a total of 7 billion emoticons or stickers flying around the world every day on mobile messaging apps!

What is an emoji?

The emoji was born when typographic displays of a facial representations — or emoticons 😉 — evolved into full-fledged graphic picture representations. They were created in the late 1990s by NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese communications firm.

When you can’t see the person you’re communicating with, an emoji is an effective option. “It’s how you emotionally express,” said Linda Kaye of Swyft Media. Your choice of emoji can dramatically alter the meaning of the sentence it’s included in and how you should respond. It changes what the text means and how it’s interpreted, they help give a more true response, and facilitate effective communication.

They’re changing our brains

Scientists have discovered that when we look at a smiley face online, the same parts of the brain are activated as when we look at a real human face. Our mood changes, and we might even alter our facial expressions to match the emotion of the emoticon.

Both emoticons and emojis are recognized and processed by the brain as nonverbal information, which mean we read them as emotional communication, not words.

And emotional communication can be just as important as words in conveying a message clearly. For example, in spoken communication, researchers now know that if speakers aren’t allowed to use gestures, they becomes less fluent.

Essentially, emojis are doing what the tone of voice does on the telephone and what expressions and gestures do in face-to-face communication.

It changes how we communicate

There’s even evidence that emojis are actually shifting our vocabulary. Instagram discovered that as emoji use goes up, Internet slang like “rofl,” “bae,” etc., goes down as users choose their emoji counterparts instead.

In a 2016 study, Kaye identified some personality traits linked to people’s use of emojis.

Another factor her team identified was that people who commonly used emojis were more socially receptive and empathetic, making them more approachable. “It says something about how we’re understanding each other and how we’re likely to interact with people,” said Kaye.

Whether you like emojis or not, it’s likely you will have used them at some point. Kaye believes that as emojis are more widely used, they can reveal someone’s true opinions on something, for example, during scientific surveys, to ensure their messages “aren’t ambiguous,” she said. “We could be using them more in psychological experimentation.”

Emojis continue to shape the way we communicate and have had an immense influence on language. Statistics show that emojis make it easier for people to get their point across, and people who use emojis are more effective communicators. Emojis are here and here to stay, and embracing them is one of the best ways to interact productively, now and in the future.

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