How “Reactions” are Changing the way we Communicate

Every human emotion, boiled down to an Emoji

Plato believed that books and written word would make us all forget how to communicate face to face. He thought that it would deplete our memories, remove our ability to use logic, and spiral humanity’s intelligence down into the realm of stupidity. Obviously, this didn’t happen. Books and written word made us smarter, and they’re the only reason that we know of Plato’s ideas in the first place.

What then, would Plato say about Emojis?
Whatever the long dead philosopher would have said, there’s no doubt that Emojis and “reactions” are changing the way that we communicate on the web, and in person. Paragraphs, sentences, and written words are quickly becoming replaced by memes, gifs, and Emojis, as visual media becomes more descriptive and more convenient.
Web communication used to consist only of text messages and IMs, but users quickly found a way to mimic visual communication in text form. Emoticons =) became a standard way to relay emotions and reactions via text. Before long, the creators of communication technology saw an opportunity to make the trend official, and introduced official characters containing smiling faces and a plethora of other symbols and signs. In 2011, Apple built Emojis directly into SMS, and Emojis as we know them were born.
Now, Emojis are everywhere. They’ve become a hugely popular way to communicate, 92% of online users employ Emojis to show their feelings. Emojis have become integrated with almost every social media platform and communication app, and provide an easy way for users to get a point across. Facebook recently added “reactions” to the traditional “like” button (eliminating the need to “like” your friend’s post about their cat dying).
Code repository host Github also just added Emoji reactions to pull requests, allowing developers to show their feelings without using pesky words. While some Emojis elicit controversy over their meaning, most users at this point have an understanding of what each Emoji means in context. Even the lengthy novel Moby Dick has been translated into Emojis.
So how are Emojis affecting communication? The big word is simplification. Instead of having to type out “Have a nice day,” one can now just say “happy face, thumbs up, wave.” Like the pictographs and hieroglyphs of antiquity, we’re moving towards symbol based communication. But that’s just online. How are Emojis changing the way we talk to each other?

Some claim that Emojis actually make us less emotional (or at least emotionally expressive). Some offer that Emojis make non-verbal cues (that account for 70% of face-to-face communication) possible in cyberspace. The experts have weighed in, but we want to hear what you think. Will multi-media messaging and Emojis have a profound effect on human communication? Or are they just a fad?

Leave your answer in the comments and we just might tweet your quote.