Communication is fast changing, and with images instead of letters. Emojis are now only second to letter in the queue when it comes to communication because the youth find them in in vogue and easy to bring out their expression.
It is now a common phenomenon to converse using smiley faces and icons because even gadget manufacturers have put this at the fore of their innovations.
Emojis can easily communicate emotions and the trend is creeping into official communications, especially office emails. Many people in offices are now signing off with smiling facial expressions.
For those in relationships emojis speak louder than words as they are easy to describe frustration, excitement and anger.
Emojis are ideograms or smileys used in electronic messages.
The coming of smart phones has facilitated the viral spread with Apple becoming the first to include emojis in its iPhone functions, which was later adopted by Android and other mobile operating systems.
“Emojis help people to express their feeling better,” Sheila Atukei, a third year student of Makerere University Business School says, emphasising that the figure-and-symbol language has been adopted to actualise feelings that words cannot explain.
“Many people, even the most educated, have issues expressing their feelings, and that is perhaps why, having come to their aid, emojis have become so popular,” Atukei says.
According to research study conducted by Vyv Evans, from Bangor University in partnership with TalkTalk mobile, smiley faces and symbols are evolving faster than ancient languages such as hieroglyphics.
The research found that eight out of 10 people use symbols and icons to communicate, with 72 per cent of 18 to 25-year-olds saying they find it easier to put their feelings across using emojis than words.
The emoji era seems to have taken over, suggesting an end of written communication as we have known it.
But aside from a bit of ironic banter between friends, should we actually be using emojis such as sad cats or a dancing senorita to convey how we really feel? Should we use cartoons to express our emotions?
Those old enough to remember the original acid house smiley face surely are big enough to tell each other when they feel shocked, sad or excited using.
But emojimania shows no sign of abating and Evans says, “Emoji is the fastest growing form of expression in history based on its incredible adoption rate and speed of evolution.”
“As a visual language emoji has already far eclipsed hieroglyphics, its ancient Egyptian precursor which took centuries to develop,” he explains.
Japanese mobile operators DoCoMo and Softbank Mobile were the first to develop emojis. However, from 2010 onwards, a Unicode, a standard system for indexing characters, has allowed them to be used outside Japan across a number of operating systems.
In her contribution to the book Discourse 2.0: Language and New Media, Susan Herring describes how a single question mark can be an entire message that indicates that the user is “confused or does not know what to say”.
But while emojis can be a useful tool at conveying fun, happy and light-hearted emotions between colleagues, the tougher emotions are harder to express in a cartoon form.
A recent US survey by mobile messaging company Cotap found that frustration, disappointment and urgency ranked highest among the most difficult emotions to express in a workplace “as an angry face casually dropped on the end of an email is not the way to plug this emotional hole”.
“We all tend to calm up when we are trying to say something that we know people won’t want to hear, and emojis are not likely to make communicating these emotions any easier,” the survey said.
In Uganda, although there is no available research, findings else where, tell the same story of a youth population grossed into the new form of symbolic communication.