Not unless you are using the wrong ones!
Each generation, it seems, has a preferred way of communicating. Researchers call people born between 1928 and 1945 the Silent Generation because they have traditionally limited their communication. But Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are more inclined to use a telephone and email. Generation X (1965 to 1980) grew up with technology and are good with email, phone, text, or social media, but seem to prefer the authenticity of face-to-face communication. Millennials (1981 to 1996) have had the internet their whole lives and would rather use any technology other than a phone, which just takes too much time.
But back to emojis. Ninety-two percent of the world’s online population use emojis to help all kinds of communication, and 6 billion emojis are sent every day. That’s a lot.
Emojis got their start with emoticons. Remember them? On September 19, 1982, Carnegie Mellon professor Scott Fahlman invented the first one: the humble smiley: :-)
About ten years later, a Japanese cell phone company released a set of 176 emojis for mobile phones and pagers. (“Emoji” is a blend of two Japanese words meaning “picture” and “letter.”)
Today there are 3,663 emojis available, but according to statistics collected by the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit organization responsible for managing emojis, “tears of joy” accounts for over 5% of all emoji use. The only other character that comes close is the heart. The heart I understand, but given what I see of the world, most days I don’t feel like crying tears of joy. Is this our way of cheering each other up?
But to your question: Yes, use emojis. Emojis are efficient and can add a level of nuance to our communications. Stick with hearts and tears of joy, though, until you have a solid handle on the language of emojis.
News flash: As I was writing this, a British news site reported that Gen Z-ers think the thumbs-up emoji is the worst one to use: “Sending a thumbs-up can be seen as passive aggressive and even confrontational, … and some claim they feel attacked whenever it is used.”
About the Author
Dean Heetderks is co-director of Ministry Support Services of the CRC and art director of The Banner. Wondering about any part of the digital side of your life? Tell him about it at email@example.com