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Why Emojis Shouldn’t Replace Emotions

Everyone has his or her own kind of texting game. While we all can’t be professional text message writers, some of us are much, much better than others.

There really is an art to composing a well-received text message. Because we have to somehow virtually transmit our intonations behind what comes through on the screen, things can get really messy when it comes to devising a text. Thus, we’ve all found our own trademark text message techniques to help our personalities shine through.

There is one group of people who have taken this whole “let your personality shine through” thing a little too literally, though. They are the people who feel obliged to insert an emoticon (always more than one) with the majority of his/her texts even though the message's sentiment didn't really call for it. I call these people “emoji abusers” and I'm pretty sure they are in the same category of “tool” as people who punctuate their texts or wait five hours in between responding.

Emoji abusers feel the need to decorate their messages with random icons that never register. Unless it's something really clever, like combining the dead x's smiley with the gun to denote your upcoming office holiday party, it's best to refrain from emoji overload.

The problem is that most people just don't use emojis well and end up coming off as either one or more of these traits:

1. Really eager – e.g. the “Want to get drinks tonight : – )” text to a hook up. The smiley just screams, “I promise I'm friendly and I'm hoping to get laid after!”

2. Really airheaded – e.g. the “i dont get it r u makin fun of me? : – ( , which is followed by a crying face, followed by a tear face, followed by a sob face” text someone sends when he or she is being made fun of and doesn't know it.

C. Really creepy. It's funny how an innocent smiley can be something completely different when it's sent from a potential pedophile on Tinder and followed by the word, “Hi.”

Serious offenders use only emojis instead of actual language when writing a text. They believe a picture is worth a thousand words, apparently. WELL NOT WHEN YOU USE 381,812 OF THEM – THAT IS CHEATING.

Why do these people falsely believe I'll understand what a picture of a girl with a blank stare is supposed to mean versus actually writing it out? You're not being cute, you're being confusing.

People who use emojis well, however, are wildly creative and exceptionally imaginative. I once, for example, played a game where I had to guess movie titles based on a series of emojis, and I kept thinking that the person who devised this game must have been pretty clever. I always welcome a witty emoticon or a fun kind of puzzle.

Emoji abusers also never forget a holiday or birthday because they love being able to use the specially themed icons (e.g. sending a Santa hat, Santa, Christmas tree and stocking all to say “Merry Christmas”). They think in terms of emoticon first, words second. When these emoji abusers hear Beyoncé came out with a new album, they are already sending the microphone and music notes to their friends.

Here's when I get really heated about emoji abusers though. Especially in today's digital age, our use of verbal language and expression has become extraordinarily curtailed — we text more than we talk. Employing emojis, instead of text, then further reduces our lexicon. Using an emoji to replace written words and texting vocabulary feels both tragic and lazy.

If you want to tell me “Happy Friday” and that today is your favorite day and you are so happy, well then there, that took me about two seconds to write it. Don't instead rely on a standardized smiley and balloons to convey the message.

Ironically, even though these emoticons are supposed to convey some kind of emotion, there's something that feels very impersonal about them. On one level, it's a symbol that comes standard on every smartphone and was designed to be a universal language. On another level, it's a poor replacement for a person's actual smile, or laugh, or hi-five.

Would it be overreaching to say that emoticons have oversimplified our actual emotions? Maybe not outside of the mobile realm, but it's something to wonder when you send your friend a sobbing emoji to denote your poor grade on a history exam.

Bottom line: If you don't have anything to say, then don't say it with a pre-packaged symbol. #Preach.

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Laura Argintar

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