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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: A word is worth a thousand emojis

    I really hate the old, clichéd adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” While that could certainly be true, I’d much rather read a paragraph than try to glean 1000 words worth of meaning from a picture, especially a Snapchat or a sequence of randomized emojis.

    As a species, humanity has a tendency to abridge. Whether it’s your saintly high school English teacher offering the abridged version of “The Count of Monte Cristo” or shooting a quick “K” back to your friend agreeing to plans, the days of handwritten notes and lengthier correspondence appear to be gone. Pictures in their most elemental forms — hieroglyphics… well, I guess we call them emojis now — along with other nonverbal forms of communication, such as Instagram posts, have taken over written conversation and are contributing to a collective sense of ennui.

    When clueing in friends and family to the fact that you’re newly single, it is no doubt easier to make an Instagram post of a burning box filled with relics of your dissolved relationship. This is perhaps preferable to facing an onslaught of questions posed when you go from “in a relationship” to “single” on Facebook. But are all of the skull and crossbones, crying face and fire emojis really necessary?

    Like the gateway drugs that they are, Snapchat, Instagram and other social networking tools that offer emojis give people the chance to eschew the effort to craft a witty caption or send a heartfelt missive to their significant other. Rather, people instead favor rampantly used heart emojis to convey their affection.

    It might be the sentimental romantic in me, but that just isn’t the same level of intimacy found in conversations from decades past. I think that we as a generation are missing out on crucial aspects of dialogue, such as tone, personal voice and expression, by entering into the world of reduced specificity that emojis offer.

    “It’s not a story of simplicity, it’s a story of enrichment,” said Tyler Schnoebelen, Stanford linguist and “emoji expert”, to Time.

    This is a sentiment with which I mildly agree: This enrichment is exacerbating the problems of a society already hell-bent on vagueness. His logic is that emojis are usually added at the end of a thought, rather than preceding or completely negating one, the latter occasion which I find to be the most frequent. In my experience, and maybe it’s just that my friends/loved ones are perpetrators of idle communication, emojis substantiate the base of a text.

    It’s gotten to the point that I no longer understand what my dad means when he texts me a sequence of random emojis that could be a diagram of a movie title but is more likely a message intended to get me to call my grandmother. And that’s a problem. Call me judgmental, but once a form of communication pervades the gray-haired echelons of society, I render it obsolete.

    This obsolescence is a story of abridgement and of sparing specificity for the sake of brevity. Although I’ve possibly come to that conclusion after fostering a distaste of something otherwise super cute — thanks, Japan — emojis should not become a primary form of communication. So, please don’t text me the pizza emoji with a question mark, because I’d much rather you call me and offer up actual dinner details.e

    —Nick Havey is a junior studying psychology and Spanish. Follow him @NiHavey

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