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Emojis Have Had A Bizarrely Major Impact On The Way Our Society Communicates

My cell phone ringer is permanently off. My close friends and family know to leave a message. I look at my phone often to make sure I don’t have missed calls and call back as soon as I’m available.

I also have text tones turned off. (Unless my daughter is out of sight. Then it’s turned on, and turned back off as soon as she’s home again.)

I can’t stand the beeping and the ringing. I have a short attention span to begin with, and having my train of thought constantly interrupted by technology compounds the problem exponentially.

When I first tell people about keeping my ringers off, they are typically appalled.

On demand lifestyles have become the norm. And I hate it, and quietly revolt against it one non beeping or ringing device at a time.

When given the choice between texting or calling, I choose texting every time. It’s something I can do between tasks. The only issue with texting is that you can accidentally come across sounding angry/sarcastic/generally horrible because there is no voice inflection.

Tonight my 12 year old got a text from her best friend. She was telling her about going to visit an animal shelter.

The friend responded, “That’s sick.” My daughter looked up and said, “Why would she say that! She must hate animals!”

About 2 seconds later her friend’s initial text was followed by a heart. My daughter said, “Ohhhh she meant sick as in great, not gross. My bad. It’s a good thing we have emojis since we can’t hear voice inflection.”

It suddenly dawned on me that living in an age where people use written words to communicate versus speaking out loud, or speaking in person has made emojis incredibly important. Those tiny smiley faces, frowny faces, laughing faces and angry faces are letting us inject visual voice inflection and faux facial expressions into our conversations.

What started as a goofy little feature, has become a very useful way to communicate more clearly.

And emojis don’t just come into play when communicating with friends and family. I work for a fully remote company, and our Slack convos are peppered with emojis. 200 people congratulating someone in a chat window, or an email chain would be crazy. 200 people responding with a party parrot and a thumbs up is much more tolerable.

The next time you send a message that contains an emoji, send a quick mental thank you note to Shigetaka Kurita — he created the first emojis in the late 90's. I assume that he didn’t even begin to comprehend the impact his creation would have on the way our society would communicate in the future.

Cheers to you Shigetaka — thanks for giving us the opportunity to express ourselves without words getting in the way. 🍻

Written by

UX Blogger ~ Product Designer ~ Sr Mgr of Design Community Partnerships @InVisionApp Opinions are my own ❤ (© 2014–2019 Jennifer Aldrich)

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