Emojis “R” Us (Or Why the Alphabet is at Risk)

Dennis Shiao
Mar 4, 2017 · 2 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Image courtesy of a site I use to copy/paste emojis from desktop: http://getemoji.com/

Twelve years from now, this article will be written entirely in emojis.

The future of the English alphabet is at risk. I fear for A as much as I fear for Z. It all started within their own ranks, when LOL and ROFL got together with FWIW and TTYL.

It was so much easier to type “LOL” than “I found what you wrote really funny.” And then LOL appeared in conversation, from TV shows to everyday chat. One year, my mom said “L-O-L” to me over the phone and I knew the world was in trouble.

Next came emojis, when LOL became something like this: 😭 and ILU became: 😍. And there’s no going back. Forget about putting pen to paper. We’re moving to an emoji alphabet. Here’s why.

We Default to Convenience

It’s human nature to default to convenience: microwave ovens, 7–Eleven, online shopping and Keurig coffee. Remember when we used to handwrite letters and make phone calls? That shifted to email and email shifted to texting.

We text to each other as a primary form of communication because it’s SO EASY and convenient. Running late and need your wife to pick up the kid? Just text her. She texts you back. Done.

Emojis are a convenient form of communication because with a single emoji, you capture the essence of your message, all while eliminating the typing of words.

We’re Visual Creatures

We’re naturally drawn to visuals over text. If you go back to the age of Cavemen and Cavewomen, perhaps written symbols were an accident. The drawings on cave walls were likely the most effective form of communication.

Also, meaning is encoded in the symbol: a smile, a frown, a thumbs up or a clap. Even if you can’t read and write, you can look at an emoji and decipher its meaning.

Emojis translate well across nationalities. I can send an emoji to native speakers of Japanese, French and Swahili and chances are they’ll understand it. While some emojis convey meaning that’s specific to a culture, many are universal, like the smiley face.

It’s Not If, It’s When

We’re quickly moving to an emoji culture. I’m using emojis more and more in emails and tweets. Brands are sending marketing emails with emojis in the subject line and body. The texts, posts and snaps of the younger generation have high usage of emojis (observing my middle school daughter’s use of Instagram attests to that).

It’s not a matter of if we move exclusively to emoji-based communication, it’s more a question of when. The longer the better for me 😕

Note: If you’re well-versed in emojis, I ask that you take any paragraph from this post and write it for us in 100% emojis [ 🙏].

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