Let’s Hear It for the Smiley Face Emoji!

Wait! Come back! I know you couldn’t see my body language when I said that. All you could see were the words. Come back and I’ll explain.

Did you know that when we communicate with one another face-to-face, ninety-three percent of how the message is interpreted comes from the nonverbal elements? Only seven percent comes from the words themselves.

Okay – I’ll give you a minute to reflect on all the text messaging and emails in our lives.

Words. Just lots of words. We can’t hear the person’s tone. Are they laughing? Shrugging their shoulders? Placing their hand on their hearts? Whispering? … Smiling?

The simple ubiquitous smiley emoji has given us a way to say something – perhaps not the most profound something – but something still very true. It communicates about our mental state or our reaction. That gesture – those thanks – that news – whatever precedes it has been received, consumed and is appreciated. Thumbs up emoji.

Scientists have discovered that when we see an online smiley face, the same parts of the brain are activated as when we see a real human face. Our mood changes and sometimes our faces change too – into a smile – just as if there was a smiling person in front of us.

Maybe emojis only get us to the fifty-yard line – but that’s a whole lot better than the seven-yard line, don’t you think? Pondering emoji.

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