At the turn of June/July, the most ridiculously silly and brilliant social networking platform was revealed: a network using only emojis – you know, those lil’ pictures in texts you use when you forget how to use words? According to an article in Salon, developers Matt Gray and Tom Scott are the masterminds behind emojli, a social network for iOS and other platforms that only allows you to speak in emojis. Not only that, but screen names are also limited to emojis (mine is four whales and a fire). Basically, Gray and Scott have done away with language forever.
Seemingly, this new app is meant as a satirical look at the highly addictive world of social networks, but also as a new, fun way to communicate. There are already 45,000 sign-ups, and the program hasn’t even been released yet. Despite mixed reactions, people are clamoring for this thing, because beyond its initial wackiness, it’s genius. One look at the emojli website, and you’re already hooked. On their website, Gray and Tom write, “No words. No spam.” No need for spelling pesky words? Awesome. No having to be limited by linguistic knowledge or a lack thereof? Sweet. Smiley faces every-damn-where? Rad.
As awesome as this all sounds, emojis and their predecessor, badly worded and spelled messages on instant messengers everywhere, are already making communication between humans utterly strange. I’m not one of those people that believes emojis are the harbingers of the eradication of written language, like some folks over at Cosmopolitan, but overuse in regular written conversation is a confusing, bothersome occurrence. They are more versatile than letters and words in some ways, but in the same manner meaningless, meaning that some people inundate messages with them, making the important words matter less.
Imagine asking someone out using emojis, or breaking up with that same person (because they use too many emojis). Although it definitely softens the blow in some ways, it also makes actual words harder to manage, and legitimate feelings and connections all but alien phenomena. I’ve heard a few people defend this kind of communication, as it mirrors the ability some have to hold entire conversations with just facial expressions. This is true and all, but written language can convey so many subtleties, a casual mastery of it as powerful or more than pictures. Emojis, as well, invoke the use of quick, silly online grammar and vocabulary, another blow to written dealings.
That all said, I am in favor of the emojli platform, only because it does act as sublime satire of our backwards linguistic evolution. There’s something to be said about a global language that is easy to understand and cartoonish (who ever said that cartoons were not a viable art form?). It’s a great experiment, an investigation into how we communicate and how much can be conveyed and understood in happy faces, whales, monkeys with hands over their faces and fried eggs. I’m interested to see the direction it takes us, and whether or not it’ll make the written word closer to being obsolete or a more coveted universal art form.
Emojli is set to come out sometime this summer, so get your username while they last. And if you see four whales and a fire, you know it’s me. Happy face, happy face, sad face, happy face, flowers, married couple, whale, hamburger, stop sign, shooting star, happy face. Am I right?