“Omg he sent you a winky?”
“I think he’s flirting! How do I respond?”
“Oh don’t flirt back. You definitely do not want him to think you’re too interested.”
“I just sent him a smiley! I’m so stressed out. He’s going to think I’m flirting.”
Okay, so this is a normal conversation. You know the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Well, these little tiny images we send through our phones might not be worth quite that much, but they certainly convey feelings where sometimes words can’t.
Emojis are not strictly slang, but they mirror it in many ways. I’ve seen them compared to a pidgin language, a manner of communication where gestures, made-up words and facial expressions come together to form a new common tongue between peoples. The pidgin sometimes dies out, but like slang, if it’s able to survive a couple of generations it can morph into a new language.
Emojis are still quite new, having originated as the emoticons of the instant messaging era – the facial expressions we used to have to type out like 🙂 and (‘_’). At some point within the last ten years, they became a standard part of the smartphone keyboard and thus a standard part of a global language. The question is, what is the future of this set of 21st century cultural icons?
If you are interested in reading more about emojis, here’s another interesting article.