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South African study reveals how people perceive emoticons

by Staff Writer
15 Aug 2021 at 08:31hrs | Views
Most of the youngsters, including people both from the millennial and Gen Z generation prefer to use their smartphones, not only for staying active on different social media platforms but also for chatting with their family, friends and even strangers. With the introduction of emoticons, everyone using a smartphone from young to old people have started using it to communicate freely, proving that sometimes words are simply not enough.
Dependency on Technology Has Increased In South Africa
A report titled, "Changes in Perceptions and Use of Mobile Technology and Health Communication in South Africa During the Covid-19 Lockdown: Cross-Sectional Survey Study" has reported that the dependency on technology especially for work has increased considerably in lockdown and along with that, time spent on social media and digital communication has increased too. Most of the participants accepted that the usage of technology will still remain high even after the lockdown is over.

Why Face-To-Face Communication Is Different Than Digital Communication?

The communication that takes place one-to-one in the physical world is different from communication with the help of a device. The major difference lies in the fact that in face-to-face conversation, apart from verbal communication, facial cues and body language are important too. For instance, maintaining eye contact is important if you are interested in the conversation. Further, while speaking, the tone of the voice matters too. However, the rules and regulations of a proper face-to-face conversation do not exist in digital communication where people hide behind the screen to type something which they might not be feeling too. For instance, for an introvert talking to a stranger face-to-face might generate anxiety whereas talking to a stranger on can be comforting. There is nothing right or wrong about both face-to-face communication or digital communication, they are simply different forms of communication enjoyed by different people.

Emojis and Emoticons: The New Digital Language
Emojis have become quite popular to communicate feelings when words cannot do justice. The first appearance of emojis dates back to the late 90s in Japanese mobile phones. Since then, it has evolved to become a universal digital language. The popularity of emojis in Japan was such that Google and Apple realized its importance for communication and as a result, it was registered by the Unicode Consortium that maintains text standards on computers.

How Do Users Perceive Emojis?
The way tone plays a huge role in face-to-face communication, emojis play a huge role to define the tone of the text. While chatting on websites like, the emojis are used to show seriousness, sarcasm and humour to ensure the communication takes place swiftly. However, there are also unsaid rules about when to use emojis. For instance, people do not use emojis in a formal setting. The usage of emojis is restricted to an informal conversation that takes place beyond the professional setting. Most of the people who use emojis accept that emojis give more depth and meaning to the words. Sometimes, emojis become necessary to be sent with a text to ensure that the receiver understands the emotion that accompanies the text in a better way. However, emojis are not always used to express emotions. For instance, a really angry text is not accompanied by an angry face emoji because it has a cartoonish look and it tones down the sentiment of the text. However, if one is faking anger and wants the receiver to know about it, the text might accompany the angry emoji to tone down the emotions. Also, emojis are used to communicate simple text efficiently. For instance, just a smiling smiley is considered a polite way to end a conversation. However, even though emojis are treated as a universal digital language, they have varied meanings in different cultures. For example, even though the thumbs-up emoji is universally treated as approval, in Greek culture, the same emoji is considered an offensive gesture. The different interpretation of emojis by different cultures has given birth to emoji translators to provide correct meaning to the emoji sent. There are many people who prefer to use emojis and many people who prefer face-to-face communication. However, the reliance on digital communication has increased after COVID-19 for sure and it will stay.

Source - Byo24News