Friday, April 10, 2015

2442 Misrepresented

I'm worried we may be on the brink of a communications disaster.  Caused by a seemingly innocuous thing.  We may be about to have a text-o-pocalypse because of, you guessed it, misinterpreted emojis.

If you are uninitiated, emojis are those little distorted happy faces you can add to your messages when you text on your smartphone.  They are not emoticons.  Emoticons are when you manipulate symbols on your keyboard to make approximations of faces or expressions.  Like a colon and an end parenthesis can make a smiley face.  Or a semicolon a winking smiley face.

Emoticons are fairly straightforward and hard to miscommunicate, as keyboard entries are universal.  Emojis, I have only recently learned to my consternation, are different depending on your phone's manufacturer.  They're even different between Facebook and your phone. 

I had a friend send me a text from her Samsung smartphone.  According to her dropdown list and the emoji itself, she also sent a "smirk."  When I received it, my Blackberry interpreted the "smirk" picture as a "huh" picture.  The emoji I saw was a face with a question mark coming out of its head. 

I know it's not world shattering but there's a big difference between a knowing smirk and a clueless huh.  Who knows what other emoji mismatches are out there?  Texting is a dicey way of communicating anyhow, as subtle nuances of meaning get lost in the terseness.  Do we want to now add outright misrepresentation of emoji faces? 

Her phone is Korean.  Mine is Canadian.  Emojis were originally Japanese.  Write your congressperson now.  It's obvious we need a universal emoji standard.  If not, I think we're going to stress quite a few relationships.  Leading people to feel lost, and hurt, and out of control.

They'll be having an emoji-nal breakdown.

America, ya gotta love it. 

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