The Oxford University Press publishes the ‘word of the year’. Past words have been bitcoin, selfie and vape. This year, along with mobile technology business SwiftKey, they accumulate statistics for some of the most popular emojis across the world. Instead of an actual ‘word’, they selected the emoji (emoticon) “Face with Tears of Joy” as their ‘word of the year’.
According to SwiftKey’s research, “Face with Tears of Joy” was the most heavily used emoji globally in 2015. Their research shows that the character comprised 17 percent of all emoji used in the U.S and 20% in England.
The runners-up were actual ‘words’ (whatever that even means anymore) ad blocker, Brexit, dark web, lumbersexual, on fleek, refugee, sharing economy, and they. (Note: no one really can tell you what ‘on fleek’ means except that it’s cool to say.)
We’re losing our ability to speak directly with each other ‘in person’ as our lines of communication become more centered upon easier and faster ways to digitally express ourselves. Facebook allows us to send messages that are not ‘face to face.’ Twitter further shortens the process to communicate with only 140 characters. With Snapchat, users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (between one and ten seconds) which are then deleted from the server. Vine allows us a brief 6 seconds to express ourselves with video. You can text a single character or emoji to let someone know how you feel which brings us to where language is going. Nowhere!
Why were the shots of all the bands on the American Music Awards limited to about a second each? Does our collective attention span equal a Nano-second? So it seems.
In the near future a digital ‘shoulder tap’ will let your friends know you’re still alive. Will it emit an almost imperceptible signal from an embedded chip which will keep us all in ‘contact’?
In the future, two young people will wonder what’s happening as they observe seniors talking with each other face to face.
One texts ? (or its equivalent) to the other. “Don’t know” the other ‘bleeps’ back, “Maybe an ancient ritual!”