Today marks World Emoji Day, an event on our calendars which 10 years ago would’ve seemed absurd.
If we needed more proof of the unstoppable pace of our world, we need only look to the field of online communication. We’ve moved from email dependency to a culture where business can be conducted through group chats, social media and direct messaging.
Tagging along with this growing trend, is the humble emoji.
Or what once could be described as humble. Nowadays, even being restricted to a variety of faces is unthinkable. A simple tap of our screens and up comes a selection of symbols from every walk of life. Foods I’ve never eaten, plants I’ve never grown and animals that aren’t even differentiable.
The emoji symbolises the lengths to which our means of communication have skyrocketed.
Where once we displayed emotions through tone of voice or facial expressions, today we simply reference our vast stock of images to communicate without ever having to emotionally connect with our recipient.
While this allows us to quickly demonstrate a feeling, there are worries that this could lead a dislike and an anxiety towards face to face communication.
In a work environment this is significant, with a study finding 76% of millennials become nervous when they hear the phone ring, compared to just 40% of baby boomers. Out of 500 office workers surveyed, 62% reported feeling anxious when answering the phone.
And several studies have the same conclusion. Something which was a cornerstone of doing business is now a significant cause of worry in the workplace, particularly amongst younger generations.
Could this selection of little electronic faces actually symbolise the electronic restriction of our expression of emotion? Is our emotional communication destined to become algorithms grinning up from our screens?
As entertaining and useful as the emoji may be, I feel it is important we maintain the original forms of communication. Receiving a grinning face in a text is nice, but it will never replace the joy of watching a personal, physical and unique smile grow across the face of someone sat right in front of you.