Are emoticons a good idea? Do they help us communicate better or are they simply unnecessary? What is the reader thinking?
Something that distinguishes us from other beings who live in the same world as us is the complexity of language.
Communication, of course, starts from the need to transmit ideas that affect us in our lives. Thus, dolphins or whales probably have a communication system that allows them to inform others or know about them where there is food, for example.
In humans, language is much more complex than we can imagine. We don’t just express ideas to help us survive. We also express feelings, ways of acting, sensations, etc.
Between oral and written
But curiously, there is a very clear distinction between expressing something orally or in writing. When we talk to someone, we are not simply attentive to what they are saying, but also, we detect the gestures our interlocutor makes and the tone of some expression.
And in these tones we even express anger, irony or any of the emotions that human beings have.
For example, let’s think that someone says something that seems unbelievable to me and I reply with an “uh-huh.” In that short-expression I can be giving him a tone of sarcasm or irony, to make the interlocutor see that I have not believed a word of him.
But if we write something, the language and the way of expressing things changes. There is no longer the tone or the face of the person with whom I speak, so the clues of what you may be thinking about in our talk pass to second place.
On the other hand, in a courier service, for example, expressing the feelings you may have seems to be even more complicated.
And yes, we have some symbols, for example «!?» (with their respective opening symbols), which reflect a certain strangeness. But it is clear that the added symbols, in addition to the words, do not carry all this contextual information that we observe in spoken conversations.
Express emotions in writing
Therefore, since the invention of the Internet, a series of symbols, called «emoticons», were created, which are nothing more than a graphic representation of an expression of the human face, which originally used text characters, aided by punctuation symbols, numbers and letters.
For example, the first two smilies, 🙂 and 🙁 , were created by Scott Fahlman in 1982, a computer scientist and professor emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University.
The western world makes these emoticons by writing at an angle to the right in the direction of the text. In Japan, emoticons called kaomoji are used, which use the katakana symbol set. But finally the original idea of emoticons is still preserved.
Current emoticons are graphical
Emoticons today are little pictures that can show the possible feelings of people. These are generally happy, sad, red (angry), green (sick) faces, with face masks, extreme smiles, sticking out their tongues, etc.
These were created by the Smiley wn 1996 company . Nicolás Loufrani developed hundreds of different emoticons, including 3-dimensional versions. Their designs were registered with the US Copyright Office in 1997 and appeared online as GIF files in 1998. These were the first graphic versions of the emoticons in text mode .
Today modern systems such as cell phones or social networks have a number of graphic emoticons for users to add these emotions to their texts.
More than one may think that in many centuries the changes to languages have been minimal, but it is evident that the need to express emotions in an environment as immediate as chat rooms, social networks and text messages of all kinds, forces perhaps to accept these emoticons as something that is here to stay. Come on, there’s even a movie where emoticons are the main actors.
At the end of the day perhaps it is all a matter of taste, but obviously the written language seems not to have enough symbology as it does in oral language.
Perhaps you have to consider that, in reality, the question is to communicate. Or not?
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