There is a part of me that is really disappointed that Marshall McLuhan, famed media analyst, was not around to see the digital age blossoming the way it has. Part of this sadness is because I fully believe that we are slowly entering/creating yet another social paradigm in how we communicate, employing a somewhat “digital socio-communicative” method.
The socio-communicative style was initially coined in a research paper published by communications specialists at the University of West Virginia in 1994.
Their first mention of the style describes its overall function:
“observers can gain insight into the personality of individuals by taking note of their characteristic communication behaviors.” (Thomas, Richmond, & McCroskey, 1994)
The paradigm shift, that I feel is occurring, takes that idea and adds to it the resurgence of personality within impersonal digital communication. Or to phrase it more in line with the style: more and more we are given tools to give our intended recipients a method of picking up “characteristics” within our communication behaviours. One of the most notable is the usage of the unfortunately coined “emoji” or, it’s older brother, the “emoticon“. The usage has become so prevalent that the Oxford Dictionary has awarded the “word of the year” designation to an emoji, specifically the “face with tears of joy”. This one, in particular, was chosen because it was found to be the most frequently used throughout social media platforms.
While, at first thought, the recognition by an organization as prestigious as the Oxford Dictionary may seem absurd, granted it was up against other words like “lumbersexual” and “on fleek”, but the importance behind the usage of this device is worth understanding.
To better do this, I urge you to read a great article detailing the “7 Reasons to Use Emoticons in Your Writing and Social Media, According to Science.” through the public blog of the social media management tool, Buffer. The article gives a great background into textual emotions as well as the scientific studies surrounding the increased use of them. It really is a great read and it would be a disservice to its content to try to paraphrase it here.
After you finish, come on back and let me know what you think.
See if you can do it in 3 emoji or less. 🙂