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BEACON Senior News

How emojis improve clarity and connection in written messages

Jul 01, 2024 04:30PM ● By Adam Cochran

Texting can often feel like the worst way to communicate. Although that might sound extreme, it’s a sentiment many can relate to, especially when text messages seem to be the culprit behind a significant portion of arguments and misunderstandings.

However, texting isn’t always bad. It can be the most efficient method for straightforward updates or questions where a phone call isn’t necessary. Here are a few instances where texting is a great way to communicate:

"I had to stop for gas. Be there in 10 minutes.”

"I’m heading to the store. Are we out of milk?”

"Have you heard this new song by Judah & the Lion?”

These messages are concise and require no immediate, detailed response. Therefore, a phone call is likely unnecessary.

On the other hand, texting falls short for more sensitive conversations. Here are some examples where texts can do more harm than good: 

“Why didn’t you do your chores before you left?”

“Here’s evidence that your perspective is dumb…”

“I think we should break up.”

It’s unfortunate that texting has become our primary form of communication because it prevents progress in relationships that happen naturally through direct in-person conversation or even via a traditional phone call.

Have you ever had an argument or big misunderstanding via text? If so, how often? How do your answers to those questions compare to how often you have resolved concerns, compromised or made up via text? 

A texting feud that lasts days can often be resolved in a matter of minutes if the parties agree to a phone call or a face-to-face conversation. That’s also why texting is the preferred method of conversation for manipulative people (i.e. scammers) because they don’t have to look the other person in the eyes.

The biggest problem with texting is that it lacks all forms of non-verbal communication, including tone, body language and facial expressions. When we rely solely on text, we miss out on these elements that help convey emotions and intentions more clearly.

That’s why emojis were invented. Emojis can serve as a form of condensed language or versatile punctuation, adding emotional nuance to otherwise flat text messages. They can act as stand-ins for the non-verbal cues missing in digital communication, helping to clarify the sentiment behind the words and reduce misunderstandings.

For some people, emojis might seem out of place or overly casual, but considering the informal nature of texting, incorporating emojis can enhance understanding and convey feelings that plain text might not. Using emojis more often can result in more effective and expressive conversations.

Navigating the nuances of texting can be tricky, especially when it comes to conveying tone. No matter how well you know a person, sarcasm rarely transfers in a text message. A simple “OK” can be a casual affirmative answer or it can be a passive aggressive response when a more complete answer is expected.

It’s true that a few emojis have taken on culturally suggestive meanings (the eggplant emoji is almost exclusively understood as a phallic symbol and the peach can imply a buttocks); however, when these emojis are used in their literal context (discussing actual peaches or recipes involving eggplant), they are perfectly acceptable and typically understood.

When texting, especially if it’s a long text with emotional context, include as many emojis as necessary to ensure it’s interpreted correctly. It may seem juvenile or silly, but emojis are there to save friendships and resolve concerns. 

Lastly, if ever do have a misunderstanding, there is a special feature on your smartphone that allows you to clear things up almost instantly—voice calls. 

Send your technology questions to Adam in care of the BEACON, or email him at [email protected]