Emojis Don’t Give Meaning to Our Deepest Feelings

We Need More Than Smiley and Frowny Faces to Avoid Misunderstandings

It’s been 35 years since Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, urged users of an online bulletin board to add two character sequences to their messages: ‘:-)’ to mark jokes; and ‘:-(‘ to indicate the preceding text was not meant humorously. The smiley (or emoticon) was born.

A mythology grew up around the importance of inserting graphic elements at the ends of written online text: Because we aren’t face-to-face with our interlocutor, we need to provide additional information to convey what our demeanor, body stance, or vocal intonation …