Lifestyle The evolution of communication — how emojis have taken over the good...

The evolution of communication — how emojis have taken over the good old phone call

"Why call someone when you can just message them?" said a guy from Generation Z. Well, to take it further, why use words when emojis can convey exactly what you want to say?

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SINGAPORE — There was a time when a good old phone call would suffice when you wanted to ask or tell someone something. It was simple and it was straightforward. But as the tides of time move and change, so does the way we communicate with one another. A report by software firm Adobe showed that these days, most people feel more comfortable conveying messages and feelings through emojis than by simply picking up the phone.

The humble smiley face has paved the way for a slew of emotion-bearing emojis, a “cultural phenomenon” that has swept the global and drastically changed the way we express ourselves. Emojis are universal in their communication and are understood across different languages, cultures and generations.

Look in the “dictionary of emojis”, if you will, and you will find emojis conveying human emotion, emojis for human signals (like thumbs up and fist bumps) and interactions (a mother and a baby, love between people of all genders, etc.), animals and nature, food and drink, activities and sports, travel and places, technology, flags of the world, and symbols and objects of all kinds.

It seems that there is an emoji for every situation.

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But why are emojis so popular? Besides the fact that they’re a lot of fun (admit it!), Adobe’s first Emoji Trend Report said that a majority of respondents (65 percent) it surveyed confessed to feeling more comfortable expressing their feelings through an emoji than via phone calls.

Adobe surveyed 1,000 frequent emoji users aged 16 to 73 across the United States in May 2019 for the report.

The top two reasons that more than 90 percent of respondents said that they use emojis were to lighten the mood of the conversation and to show support to people they were talking to, while more than 60 percent said that they use emojis to make conversations more fun.

In terms of favoured emojis, the face with tears of joy came out in the top spot of most loved and used. It expresses laughter, particularly strong laughter!

The second emoji to snag a spot in the top was the “red heart” emoji, which is used to show love.

The third favourite emoji chosen by users was the kissing face emoji with a heart kiss, which represents kisses or expresses feelings of love and affection.

Photo: Top three favourite emojis chosen by users/YouTube screen grab

When asked about emojis’ greatest benefits, a majority of the users — 94 per cent — highlighted the ability to communicate across language barriers, while 90 per cent liked that emojis allowed them to instantly share their thoughts and ideas.

The Adobe study reported that 81 percent of emoji users feel that people who use emojis are more approachable.

The survey found that 83 percent of users traded emojis with friends while only 55 percent did so with their significant other or partner.

Meanwhile, 35 percent of users used emojis with their children, specifically 43 percent of mothers and 28 percent of fathers.

A good majority, at 61 percent, also think that emojis can improve workplace communication, making things friendlier between colleagues.

78 percent of respondents said that they used emojis at work to make themselves more likeable, while 74 percent felt that using emojis helped with relaying positive news or feedback in a more sincere manner.

A total of 36 percent of workplace emoji users said they exchanged emojis with fellow workmates at their level, at 24 percent for men and 14 percent for women.

Even with the diverse range of emojis already available, as well as the newer additions such as being able to choose between a range of skin colours to represent different races, users still want more.

In fact, nearly 80 percent of users wish there were more inclusive and representative emojis, with 73 percent hoping for more customisable emojis which would better capture personal appearance and identity, like more hairstyles or hair colour options.

76 percent of the respondents wanted more food, drinks and snacks emojis of more diverse cuisine.

The Adobe survey’s results on users preferring emojis to making phone calls are thus follows, per generation: 83 percent of Generation Z respondents (those born between 1995 and 2015), 71 percent of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996), 61 percent of Generation X respondents (those born between 1965 and 1980) and 53 percent of baby boomers (those born between 1944 and 1964).

When questioned on why he refused to call someone to get an answer on a simple matter, someone from Generation Z told me the other day that phone calls were “intrusive” and “uncomfortable”.

“Why call someone when you can just message them?” he asked me. Well, to take it further, why use words when emojis can convey exactly what you want to say?

In the evolution of our communication, we’ve reached an interesting junction — a nod to our roots, when our ancestors drew pictures and symbols on cave walls, way before words were used, and a progression so far into technology and the future that words (which we have spent so many years collecting, studying and learning) are no longer necessary. -/TISG

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