Digital Emotion in the Age of Emoji
The age of the emoji is here and it’s happening right now. According to iD outlet AMUSE, who published a fashion forecast which celebrated the fact they had predicted EMOJI FASHION. Read it again. It hasn’t gone away. EMOJI FASHION.
With fashion house Versace releasing their very own emoji pack – how long is it before we are all utilising cartoon parodic images of celebrities/fashion/music as our primary means of communication on a daily basis.
This trend presents itself as somewhat of a problematic notion, doesn’t the sassy pink girl only have one outfit? Aren’t the families/couples always wearing the same gender biased trousers and skirts? These are the only shoes: ? ? ? ? ? – I hope you can pull off the mid-height beige mule,or the red stilleto. If not we’re headed for an immeasurable wave of WHAT ARE THOSE videos if anyone goes near the brown creeper, and that joke will be tough to resurrect, already buried deep in it’s memecoffin.
Maybe the big four’s runways will be littered with the fashionable influence of the smiling shit and taco emojis. Hopefully it makes Anna Wintour ?.
Who could have known when you were innocently peppering your MSN flirtation with the ever so subtle 😛 that this innocent keyboard manipulation would evolve into the cultural dissemination of the emoji. These symbols would transcend our culture to provide our digitally saturated minds with an actual trend to follow in 2016, one that takes its muse as the characters of the emoji keyboard ?(that flag is signalling the finish line of our generation’s intellectual growth FYI).
To give the problem a little more context, the Oxford Dictionary cited “?” as the most used ‘word’ of the year. In an attempt to appear culturally relevant, the crying/laughing/I’m not finding this conversation stimulating enough to bless you with my lexicon face. No words, just the emoji. Even as an avid supporter of the digital realm, lover of social media or frequenter of emojis, not many would revel in this questionable decision from the academic publishing institution, who you trust to tell you how to spell, like, everything.
Coupled with the jarring knowledge that the most used teenage word of 2014 was ‘follow’, it would seem we are indeed mindlessly following each other into the depths of the post-internet underworld. Except here it might be advisable to look back, as Orpheus did, to turn to the emoji girl/boy walking beside us, and realise that we are entering into a digital dilution of emotional engagement which might one day, be irreversible.
One justification for the emoji’s unparalleled prowess in our technological conversation may be that it is creating a kind of universal language, which we can all partake in, given that the expressions shown in these smiling faces can be recognised by people across the globe, transcending linguistic barriers.
But when it is deemed preferable to express yourself with a yellow cartoon face, as opposed to languages that the human race have used for over 2000 years, it might be time to put down Snapchat and reflect on the impact that digitalisation is having on our psyche, intelligence, and dignity.
Once we allow the emoji to become our central means of expressing emotion, we also allow our emotional state to be pigeonholed into a mood that Apple/Microsoft has designed. There is absolutely no scope for personal emotional input, tone or tact when using an emoji that someone else has deemed an appropriate response. To put it IRL, imagine holding up a smiling cartoon over your face that someone else made for you, rather then using your own.
Emojepedia – no relation to wikipedia, lists a number of FAQS, one of which posits the question: can I make my own emoji?
“That is not possible.” Essentially the question is asking, is there the software readily available where by I can construct my own emotionally indicative cartoon face so that my conversation and digital presence can be more personal, a bit more like me.
The answer is plain to see, no. With celebrities such as Kim creating Kimoji, so you can warp your emotions to replicate something akin to her infamous crying face – the internet in its meta x meta state has provided a wealth of amusing offerings to try and counterbalance the pervasion of the Kardashians. Humour is undeniably the best way to mediate and moderate the digitalisation of our emotions. But this relies upon internet and emoji uses being aware of the irony implicit in their use of juvenile smilies, rather than replacing language with animated digital emotion.
The fear may run a little deeper when you begin thinking about those millennial iGenerations who are growing up digitally and might one day start basing their facial expressions based upon the 300-strong emoji scope of Apple’s keyboard. What’s worse, communicative skills and ability to practice language may be considerably diminished, given that most conversations are now typed. The beginnings of this can be sensed by the GLOBAL LANGUAGE MONITOR’S winner for the most useful word category in 2014: even deal with or reconcile difficult situations or emotions (from “I can’t even”).
Meaning that the most useful word chosen in 2014 was one which helped us elucidate the fact we cannot express ourselves with words, or with emojis. This could well mark the beginning of a digital dystopia, which just might make you feel a bit more than ?.