Emojis are everywhere. In snaps, texts, and tweets, we add them to color our words with a little more emotion, a little piece of us. This has become apparent to me as my friends and I have debated over our most used emojis. These debates have become jokingly heated, but even so, that we debate what emojis best describe our emotions at all is indicative of how far writing culture has come. Before technology, only people that really wanted to wrote, and they did so using words to convey their emotions; now anyone who has the motor skills to type can press the pizza emoji and have pizza delivered to them. We live in a show and tell culture with the tell part cut out.
Would Socrates like living in today? People use emojis most often to put context back into their words, especially texts, which is something that Socrates could appreciate. Socrates in Phaedrus spends a lot of breath disparaging the “copy of a copy” nature of writing that decontextualizes our true feelings; emojis are feelings packaged in a single click.
How truthful those smiley faces are, however, is irrelevant. They’re only useful for convenience. Group chats are notorious for this. Annoying friends and still saying something is now possible. If one wants to say “whatever” without typing the eight letters required, just use that sassy girl emoji. One of my friends mimics this same emoji to express his airy indifference (to be honest you probably have too). Emojis have begun to condition how we feel. They’ve started to condition how we express ourselves, how we tell stories in the written word. I once used emojis in a text to write out the nursery rhyme “…First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” Eventually we’ll all be living in an orally homogenous world, saying “oh yeah, like that emoji.”