Could Emojis be Deteriorating the Empathy of our Tech-Obsessed Society?

Emojis and Emotional Inteligence

In our tech advanced society, people rely on a mix of Gifs, emoticons and emojis in their conversations to help their recipients better understand what they are trying to say and the manner they are saying it. We heart, sad face, smirk face and tongue daily through our feeds as we react to the different online posts. Emojis lend levity to our everyday communication, unfortunately at a price.

While using emojis make conversations more cheerful and easy going, outsourcing our feelings to tiny images narrows our ability to express ourselves candidly. Many of us tend to solely rely on Auto-predict emojis to create texts, choose social media reactions, as opposed to a genuine and heartfelt comment, a DM or even a phone call to improve the overall internet experience. This stifles our emotions instead of revealing them.

The Easy- breezy feeling Emojis evoke in conversations makes it easy for people to distance themselves from showing their true feelings online.  Sometimes, Emojis are even cunningly used to portray the opposite of their intended meaning. Behind the heart emoji a friend commented on your Instagram post, anxiety, FOMO, anger or envy could lurk beneath the cheerful veneer.

Our fast paced daily online interactions are continuously inundated with myriad of posts from friends as new feeds update by the second. The dizzying pace of social media posts presents the dilemma of how to  react to the different online posts from various  friends and acquaintances.

Consider a situation where a friend has lost a family member, should you choose a sad emoji to show empathy, do you comment and end up regurgitating the platitudes already posted by 10 other people or just skim through the post entirely without reacting? When a friend reveals sad intimate details about a break up to the public, do they deserve an angry emoji or sympathetic emoji?

When confronted with such situations, our digital impulse is always to keep things light instead of trying to sort out our emotions or understand what the people we care about are feeling.  Emoji- only replies have become so common that most of their meanings are mostly either misrepresented or misinterpreted. Emojis have ended up being just a set of basic online coping mechanisms.

The usage of Emojis in online communication tend to minimize the options that could better understand and express human emotions online, to make it easy for machine readability. Emojis can never accurately capture or convey emotion because according to cognitive science, emotions are complex systems comprising of unique culture, language and context. Emotions are also not all universal and basic as earlier thought.  Having limited emotional concepts in online interactions is what ends up limiting our ability to develop emotional intelligence.

Cultivating Emotional Intelligence in online interactions


Words express emotion better

Switch it up. If you were relying on automated Twitter likes, Retweets or Facebook reactions, you could try using words. Challenge yourself to say something original and heartfelt. Genuine comments help you develop your own emotional sensitivity and are more meaningful to recipients.

Bring your Creativity Game

We all have a set of go-to emojis that we quickly employ to fill in for words for various occasions. Try to resist the temptation to revert back to your favorite emoji options every time you chat. Instead learn to be more inventive in the various ways of Emoji and Gif usage.  As you get more creative with an emotional expression the more attuned you become to the emotion.

Resist Default Categories

Default social media post reactions such as Facebook reactions are normally encouraged by big businesses as a ploy to drive users to react within certain parameters for easier data gathering and analysis. By relying on these suggested emojis and Gifs We miss an opportunity to develop our emotional skills. Come up with your own set of emojis instead of depending on system shortcuts.



About the Author

Sharon Adisa
Sharon is a writer and editor who strives to continually further both the depth and breadth of her skills as a writer so as to contribute superior work and deliver client and customer satisfaction.

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