Emojis Aren't As Good As Words, Says Science
The Debrief: Is the chance of catastrophic misinterpretation just too big a risk?
My friends and I regularly have conversations which look like this:
Quite apart from the fact that this kind of emoji interpretation takes mad skillz and a certain level of familiarity with the friend you’re messaging with, recent research has found that even the bog-standard smiley is being misconstrued between cultures and platforms (remember when people started saying the poo emoji was actually an ice cream?). Talk about rocking the boat.
In a study which has turned something supposedly inane into the stuff that sociological wet dreams are made of, the research suggests that what was designed to be used as a universal language, aiding communication where actual words and punctuation just won’t cut it (?!?!?!?!?), is actually making things more complicated. Because we’re all using different platforms to message from, what we send off one device is going to get re-formatted when it shows up on something else.
So that squinty toothy grin you send off your android is going to be more of a grimace when your mate reads it off her iPhone. And, in turn, that grumpy looking, downward eyebrow face with steam coming from it’s (non-existent) nostrils that is clearly pissed off on your iPhone? That’s one happy chappy on an android.
Turns out this is causing serious conversational turmoil. Given the varying appearances of the images themselves across different platforms, the study examined how negatively, neutrally or positively the emojis were being interpreted by individuals. Slotting that squinty grin (/angry grimace, depending on your phone) into a conversation about last nights break up could yield some really weird responses from someone reading it off something else.
So if all of this potential for mis-communication is too much for you to deal with, its probably best to refer to this difinitive chart, to take half the fun out of whatsapp and solve the confusion once and for all (including that pesky poo).
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At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating