A recent study conducted by Harvard University showed that the majority of people worldwide, many who have never lived in a world without emojis, are so accustomed to using the adorable little symbols to express emotion that they’ve nearly forgotten how to have a feeling without them.
The study, which polled humans from 196 countries, found that 95% of the time people turn to their trusty emojis to tell others what they’re feeling, even if they don’t have an electronic device handy.
So popular have the iconic symbols become that 25-year-old Lucy Gucci says when she feels an emotion, her default way to express it can even be verbal.
“My sister recently had a baby and when I saw him for the first time I was all like ‘awwwww, hugging face, smiling face with heart-shaped eyes, party popper!’” says Gucci. “Then, my sister said, ‘Smiling face with tears of joy, tired face, relieved face, flexed bicep.’ We were both just so smiling face with open mouth and smiling eyes!”
Emojis help humans avoid awkward situations
But it’s not just familial and happy times that are being outsourced to emojis. Personal and workplace dramas are also commonly played out with the use of emojis, which have become the preferred method of avoiding awkward confrontations.
Brad Lolly, owner of Chicken Lickin’s Fried Shrimp Store, said he was having trouble with an irresponsible employee and ended up embroiled in a full-blown emoji fight.
“I had an employee who was always late and wouldn’t stay on task, which I blame on his partying lifestyle,” says Lolly. “So I texted him, ‘Unamused face, beer mug, thumb’s down, alarm clock, explanation question mark.’ That little jerk texted back, ‘Poultry leg, fried shrimp, pile of poop, middle finger.’ I had no choice but to terminate him. Double disappointed face, but what are you gonna do?”
While some sociologists are concerned about humanity’s waning ability to express real emotion, futurist and emoji enthusiast Jolene Jansen said it’s just another aspect of human evolution, and one that will help humans thrive in the time of the singularity.
“Robot face, bullseye,” she said.