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Rebecca Hutchinson | What’s Poppin’

An emoji is worth 1,000 words

Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 11:02

If there’s one thing millennials love, it’s abbreviating. For some reason, we really, truly hate typing out full words. The approximately two seconds we can save by typing “omw” instead of “on my way” is, apparently, far too valuable to lose. I don’t know where exactly this obsession with abbreviations was born, but I was first exposed to it when I started using AOL Instant Messenger (which was abbreviated, obviously, to AIM). AIM taught me valuable things, like when it was appropriate to say “haha” and “lol,” if somebody signs off without first saying “g2g” then they probably hate you and that the more letters you put at the end of a word, the cooler you are.

Things have changed now. AIM has given way to iMessage. More importantly, we’ve found a way to make abbreviations even shorter. Now, we now don’t have to type letters at all. We can just use emojis.

Emojis are wonderful because they can express pretty much anything you would want to say over text without making you actually take the time to type it out. Want to tell somebody you love them? There’s an entire page of heart emojis, plus at least three smiley faces that will also get the job done. We no longer have to deal with the hassle of typing out “ok,” thanks to the thumbs-up emoji. There are faces to express happiness, sadness, nervousness, anger and sleepiness. Even more exciting, all these emotions also come in cat form. There’s an emoji to feature in texts about every holiday, car and weather-related issue.

For the dedicated emoji user, there’s an emoji for every occasion. For the average emoji user, like me, the emojis on your recently used page are at your disposal and the pages and pages of other ones are not, as you are far too lazy to go through them. After all, if I’m not willing to take the time to type something, there’s no way I’m going searching through pages of tiny images so I can visually represent it. My top three emojis right now are the party hat, the thumbs-up and the cat with hearts for eyes. Maybe this says bad things about my texting game, but those three are all I need in the majority of my texts.

The people at the emoji factory did a lot of things right, but I do have some complaints. For instance, I don’t understand why there’s a whole page of moons. Please tell me: Who really needs emojis to distinguish between waning and waxing moons?

And, while I heavily use all the Christmas-themed emojis during the season, I recently realized there is no menorah and am not sure how emoji got away with that. Also, I would love a “fingers crossed” emoji more than anything. 

In some ways, emojis are the ultimate crutch for communication. But, in other ways, they make texting a whole lot better. If a picture is actually worth 1,000 words, then think of all I’m saying with my two- word, six-emoji iMessage. I admit that our consistent use of emojis instead of real, big-kid words may not be the best thing for the future of the English language. But really, the English language isn’t going anywhere, and if it were, nobody should be expecting it to be preserved via text message. Who knows, maybe one day there will be alternate emoji keyboards for our computers. Maybe one day, the whole world will speak emoji (it is, according to iPhone keyboards, considered a language). The possibilities are endless. 

Rebecca Hutchinson is a freshman majoring in international relations. She can be reached at Rebecca.Hutchinson@tufts.edu. 

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