When words fail, there’s always πŸ“ƒ

This article was first published by dmcityview.com

The internet is not immune to embarrassing trends. Whether we're talking America Online chat rooms or keeping a Friendster profile well past 2004, there are dozens of shifts in online communication that in hindsight were just silly. Today, we don't need hindsight to understand that the ridiculous web-enabled discourse of the day is emojis.

If you text, tweet, or email with someone under the age of 35, chances are you've received some rather confusing messages lately. Not typos or inexplicable abbreviations, (although those are odd as well) but little graphical icons. Battleships, the moon, eggplants, top hats, and many more absurd little cartoons have all been invading our online communications. These silly little ideograms, better known as emoji, are currently the hippest form of communication.

Taken from the japanese symbols η΅΅ζ–‡ε­— (which is read e-moji) and translates to pictogram, emoji are almost as old as the internet itself. Created in 1999 by Japanese computer programmer Shigetaka Kurita, the original idea was to shorten digital communication and replace long strings of characters that take up valuable typing space. Today, one needs look no farther than Twitter to see that this same principle is still alive and well. The most recent example of the power of Emoji’s came earlier this month when Los Angeles Clipper’s basketball player, DeAndre Jordan, almost defected to the Dallas Mavericks. When his teammates found out he was leaving, but had not yet signed his new contract, they’ve unleash a string of tweets using only emoji’s to communicate.

What emoji’s could possibly explain this awkward and tense situation? Simple: , , , and many more. To the uninitiated little icons of planes, helicopters, cars, trucks, trains, a banana, and a boat mean nothing; however in emoji speak it speaks volumes. Jordan’s teammates were saying they were coming for him by all means available to bring him back to Los Angeles and nothing was going to stop them… Except for the banana and the boat. Those were an inside joke about one teammate being on vacation in the Caribbean.

Either way, this incident was a major coming out party for emoji.  Even with 17 years of history and being prevalent on internet message boards and Facebook, this was a complete discourse among millionaires about their emotions and efforts. See as great a communication tool as the internet is, it virtually impossible to communicate on it subtext, sarcasm, or showcase non-verbal communication. Emoji specialty is subtext, sarcasm, and showcase.

Some of the more popular emoji appear nonsensical, but are actually filled with silent commentary. Instead of spilling anger and paragraphs of rage all over the internet, why not simply use the red-faced frowning emoji with steam coming out it's nose? If you’re feeling sick and don’t want to explain your state in detail, then text the most popular emoji: πŸ’©, and no I am not going to describe this emoji (I’m not eight years old).

Calling emoji childish or sophomoric is missing the point. They are everywhere and becoming more popular by the day. Emoji have reached such saturation point that Sony is developing a film around the little icons. Hey if legos and GI Joes can get the Hollywood treatment, who am I to say “Emoji: The Feature Film,” couldn’t work.

Still there is something adolescent about communicating with little cartoon icons instead of using words. Symbols like πŸ…, πŸ„, and 🎎 seem like something more likely to pop up in notes passed between middle school classes than included in serious discussions. Still nearly 20 years of history means, like it or not emojis are probably not going anywhere. So I suggest you 🐨, 🍣, 🚜.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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