A cup of emotions

Last Updated : 27 November 2015, 18:34 IST

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They say that a picture is worth a thousand words but these days, emoticons and emojis are valued much higher. With the growing popularity of social networking sites and online messaging platforms, people would much rather throw around a smiley face or a pictorial diagram than put in to words their emotions and thoughts.

Observing this trend, ‘Metrolife’ spoke to some youngsters about the appropriate time to use emojis and emoticons and the possibility of words becoming irrelevant on online communication portals.

Sachin Singh, an engineer, says that emojis and emoticons are very important for communication because they allow one to express their feelings without wasting time on explanations. Adding that he uses them on a daily basis, he explains, “I like them, whether I’m texting on WhatsApp or updating a status on Facebook, because they let you express yourself with ease. If I’m angry or sad, instead of telling people ‘I am angry/sad’, I can just put the appropriate emoji or emoticon and they will know that I need my space. And if someone compliments me, I’ll blush, smile or be happy, none of which the person can see. So, I send an emoji and they understand me and my emotions better.” He doesn’t think that they are replacing words but just making communication easier.

Most people think that the terms ‘emoji’ and ‘emoticon’ are inter-changeable, but they are not. While emoticons pre-date emojis and are combinations of various characters — punctuations, number and letters — emojis are pictographs pre-set in one’s phone. Emoticons are used to express emotions while emojis become extensions of a conversation. It’s just a coincidence that they have similar sounding names.

 For Dilshad, a student, using emojis is essential when messaging. “It makes the conversation interesting. When people don’t use emojis, I don’t feel like responding to them.” He adds that they make the person on the other side of the conversation sound friendly. Sagar Shetty, who is self-employed, is of the same opinion and says, “I use emojis when messaging because plain text sounds rude. The tone of the message is different and feels unfriendly when there are no emojis.”

Some of the most popular emojis and emoticons are the smiley faced ones. Although there is a wide range to pick from, people prefer the basics. Sachin says his favourites include the blushing smiley and opened-mouth grin one. Sagar uses the thumbs up sign to acknowledge a message or comment. But Dilshad makes use of the variety, saying, “You can even wish a person on their birthday with just emojis! I use most of them, depending on the context.”

Others like Shivkumar Panicker have taken it to the next level — he uses memes instead of emojis and emoticons. “They are a way to express oneself. But I prefer using memes because they are more realistic. They have a person’s face to them so the emotion and content seem more real.” Narrating a funny incident, he adds, “On WhatsApp, I’m so used to using the kissy face smiley with my girlfriend that I end up sending it to others by mistake!” They have become a way to represent a variety of emotions and even speak for themselves. Says Sachin, “Sometimes, I just have to update my status with an emoticon and people know how I’m feeling. I think they express emotions and thoughts that people can’t put into word or find hard to.”

But not everyone likes the idea that communication has been simplified to such an extent. Shruthi, a content writer, thinks that emojis and emoticons are pervasive and trivialise a conversation. “I’ve received CVs and cover letters with emoticons on them! Using them has become so pervasive that we have forgotten what being professional is like. Even when it comes to a personal level, I don’t like them. I’m not a big fan of communicating via messages in the first place, so when emojis are used I think the conversation loses any value it had.”  

Published 27 November 2015, 16:10 IST

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