Emoticons and our emotions

emojis oct

Over the years there have been many abbreviations within the English language, “for example” to “eg”,” post scriptum” to “PS” and of course you have the introduction of text talk abbreviations, don’t feel like typing see you soon,”cya” should suffice. In the digital age we live in we are constantly looking for short cuts to our exsisting short cuts. We want everything at the tip of our fingertips, so the idea of little icons to express our emotions is very appealing .The first emoticon (which represented facial expressions using various keys on a keyboard) was said to have been used in 1982 but since then advancements have been made and Emojis (a small digital icon) were introduced. Emojis are universal and can be understood by all languages. Even Hermann Melville’s classic, Moby Dick has been translated into an emoji version entitled Emoji Dick (Robb,2014).

I think I would be an occasional emoji/emoticon user, I do feel as if they have added another dimension to the written word. I mainly use them to express an emotion, happiness, excitement, anticipation, fear, everything is covered. Emojis are also integrated into the keyboards on iPhones, which is nearly suggesting all your texts or interactions should include these friendly digital icons. It is then made even easier for the user by having your recently used emojis pop up (some of mine include, the laughing crying face, the smug smirking face, the salsa dancer and the unamused face).So, my phone is telling me these are the top emotions that I have shared with people (or have sent to myself), although in person I was not nearly half as expressive. Take the crying laughing face for example, I use this around five times a day, and I am probably not “crying laughing”, at most, I might have sniggered.

It got me thinking, if over-exaggerating our emotions could affect our interactions and how we express and interpret emotion in real life, how serious should a winking face be taken ;)? Why is there three variations of the tongue face, a winking one, a closed eye one and an open eye one, should I be offended if I receive the closed eye version? I am confused, this would be a perfect opportunity to use the ‘speak-no-evil’ monkey emoji, but maybe someone else would use the ‘see-no-evil’ monkey. Do we feel, perhaps a bit disappointed talking to someone in person who is much more flamboyant and exciting using emoticons/emojis (are we setting people’s level of emotional engagement too high?). Having read an article in relation to emojis and our emotions, I found it interesting when they made a point about the gender divide in relation to emoji usage, based on the ideology that females are more emotional, they tend to use more emoticons(Robb,2014).

There is also the fear that we may not value physical emotion as much as we would have, could this hinder our ability to develop psychologically by not being able to express our emotions properly in real life. Since we are living in a constant virtual reality, it is not that absurd to think of these possibilities in relation to emoticons/emojis and their usage. Since we seem to be throwing happy, sad, angry, confused, crying, frightened icons around, there may come a time when we fail to recognise real emotion if it is not expressed digitally. Of course, these are all possibilities, I would be very interested in researching further into this idea.

Niamh x


Bartlett, Q. (N/A), Emoticons, a Return to “Hieroglyphics”?, url: http://revelfoundry.com/emoticons-a-return-to-hieroglyphics/ Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Marsden, R. (2013), More than words: Are ’emoji’ dumbing us down or enriching our communications?, url: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/more-than-words-are-emoji-dumbing-us-down-or-enriching-our-communications-8610767.html Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Robb, A. (2014), How Using Emoji Makes Us Less Emotional, url: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118562/emoticons-effect-way-we-communicate-linguists-study-effects Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Seiter, C. (2015), The psychology of emojis, url: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/06/23/the-psychology-of-emojis/ Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Picture: http://getemoji.com/ Accessed on the 26th of October 2015