At the risk of sounding a little too much like the 'get off of my lawn' old codger that I am fighting against becoming, please take a look at the image on the left, your Oxford Dictionaries 'Word of the Year' for 2015 and try hold back your tears for the future of humanity while you contemplate the same.
The 'Word' of the Year for 2015 as you have certainly deduced is not really a word at all, but rather an emoji, and to be precise, it is the 'Face with tears of joy' emoji. And if the folks at Oxford are correct you have doubtless seen this particular emoji plenty of times this year as their research claims 'face with tears of joy' to be the most-used emoji of 2015. I guess 'smiley-face' is just so 2012. Note to self: I probably need to up my emoji game.
Just why did Oxford Dictionaries go with an emoji, never mind this particular one as its Word of the Year? Let's take a look at the reasoning from the blog post announcing the selection:
Emojis (the plural can be either emoji or emojis) have been around since the late 1990s, but 2015 saw their use, and use of the word emoji, increase hugely.
This year Oxford University Press have partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of the most popular emoji across the world, and 😂 was chosen because it was the most used emoji globally in 2015. SwiftKey identified that 😂 made up 20% of all the emojis used in the UK in 2015, and 17% of those in the US: a sharp rise from 4% and 9% respectively in 2014. The word emoji has seen a similar surge: although it has been found in English since 1997, usage more than tripled in 2015 over the previous year according to data from the Oxford Dictionaries Corpus.
Admit it, you have used an emoji(s) in some kind of 'business' correspondence in the last month or so. Even if it was not a full-fledged 'image' emoji, you have definitely dropped a :) (technically, an emoticon, not an emoji, but you get the idea), somewhere in an email or a text to a business contact. It is ok, I have to.
And I suppose with recognition of the rise in popularity and increase in common usage of emojis by organizations like Oxford Dictionaries it is becoming a little less troubling to admit that you have been peppering emails and other messages with those cute little characters. And why not? A picture is worth a thousand words and all that, and NO ONE wants an email of a thousand words, or even half that.
But the larger part of the story, and the reason why I have submitted 'Face with tears of joy' as the latest in the 'Learn a new word' series is that it reminds us (again, as if we needed reminding), that methods, manner, and styles of communication, even 'serious' communication, change and morph over time. We are not writing long-winded memos any longer, no one has tolerance for lengthy emails, voice mail is just about dead as a business tool, and so on.
With the growth in popularity of short messaging services, (SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, etc.), the style of interaction on these services are changing and adapting to the medium. Throw in the seeming information overload/time crunch that almost every professional you know will claim these days, and the ability to convey complex information in the shortest, most succinct way possible is a skill that is at a premium.
And since this post has already gone on too long for a post that is more or less about getting your point across more quickly, I will leave with this - it is probably time to step up your emoiji game. As much as I cry a little inside to say that.
Have a great week!