Small, quick and entertaining, digital icons called “emojis” emotionalize conversations and facilitate instant messaging, but could they also harm teens’ ability to express emotions verbally?
In a “Guardian” article by columnist Jonathan Jones, linguist and professor Vyv Evans compared emojis to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
“As a visual language, emoji has already far eclipsed hieroglyphics, its ancient Egyptian precursor which took centuries to develop,” Evans said.
However, the columnist criticized how artistic styles of communication, like emojis and Egyptian hieroglyphs, limit user expression unlike spoken or written language.
“There are harsh limits on what you can say with pictures,” Jones wrote. “The written word is infinitely more adaptable. That’s why Greece rather than Egypt leapt forward and why Shakespeare was more articulate than the Aztecs.”
Some students agree.
“If you really love somebody, instead of just showing a heart [emoji], call or tell them face to face because emojis are more like a cheap way to getting into the feelings of somebody’s heart,” sophomore Levon Hardy said.
“Sometimes, [emojis] can help express emotions,” sophomore Angelo S. Martinez said, “[but] when it comes to something more sentimental, type out your expressions and make it more meaningful.”
But not all students say that emojis limit a person’s ability to express feelings–– instead they enhance it.
“I actually think that emojis help teens better express their feelings in ways that words can’t,” junior Richard Emiko said. “Like some people don’t know how to use their words to express themselves, [but] when you have an emoji, the person you’re talking to is more able to understand what you mean.”
Math teacher Lucy Mix says that emojis have not hindered her communication with her daughter.
“My daughter will actually tell me later on what she’s saying or feeling and expand on it,” Mix said. “Like if she’s sad, or she doesn’t like something she’ll pull up a sad face, and I’ll ask her ‘Why so sad?’and then she tells me why she’s sad.”
As the use of emojis continues to grow with more than 6 billion emojis sent every day across the globe according to digital startup Swyft Media, not everyone is happy with how some emojis have been instilled with politically correct versions.
The replacements of the pistol gun emoji to a water gun in Apple’s iOS 10 update earlier this year triggered backlash from users who believe that the change is superfluous.
“I don’t think it needed to be changed,” Mix said.
“It should be changed back [to the pistol gun] because it limits our expression,” Emiko said as he pointed out that the change contradicted the purpose of emojis.