SHOW SOME EMOJI
2014 became the year of the emoji (tiny aubergine anyone?). Emoji, the online characters that have replaced the simple smiley face, are taking over our smartphones. But why do we love emoji so much?
Tom Stewart, a psychologist specialising in people and technology, suggests it’s because they’re personal: “Digital communication has a tendency to be impersonal. Emoji are a way of making it more fun.”
He has a point. Even the phrase “digital communication” makes me think of HTML and coding – in comparison emoji conjure up warm, safe thoughts.
Anyone can use emoji, whether a toddler or pensioner. All you need is a sense of humour and appreciation for a random breaded prawn, or grumpyfaced moon.
Laura, 25, tells me that she and her best friend have a personal relationship with the aubergine emoji. Instead of saying “hey, how’s it going?” or “I’m thinking of you, hope all is well”, they can just send the tiny aubergine image.
They say a picture says a thousand words. But an emoji? That speaks volumes. “If you try and explain in words it might be five or six rather than one little squiggle,” explains Stewart.
“There’s quite a lot of them so you can use them for any occasion. You can also say something and put a smiley face at the end, meaning people will interpret it quite differently.
“In the UK we’re quite good at sarcasm and dry humour. If you don’t have the context it can sound quite rude.”
Twitter users agree with this – they say that using emoji stops them sounding overly sarcastic, and it’s often quicker than trying to explain yourself through words. But what keeps cropping up among emoji lovers is that this is a way to be creative.
We live in a world where technology has made everything easy for us. We don’t even have to type – we can just dictate messages into our smartphones. But when it comes to emoji, you can’t just rely on your phone to pick out the best one; you have to do it yourself.
As Twitter user Rosie Trousers tells me: “They make digital life more colourful and creative.” Instead of just bashing out a quick message, using emoji means that you have to spend time looking through the images, and you can try and challenge yourself by being creative with them.
It’s now common for people to write out entire songs or films using emoji (a friend once sent me Les Miserables in emoji format), and their friends guess what it is they’ve created using the pictures. There are even blogs dedicated to this, such as emojilyrics.tumblr.com