Many mistakenly think that this new type of online communication (texting, emoticons, emoji, GIFs, and stickers) are not REAL communication. They’re tricks. They’re gimmicks. They’re kid stuff.
Language is evolved, not designed. It is what it becomes.
The concept of “correctness” is a temporally treacherous thing. It changes constantly, but not much within one lifetime.
The rise of the Internet and mobile computing is accelerating that massively because we have new mediums that are allowing the exchange of more ideas, between more people, at higher speeds.
More exchange and more exposure to selection means more evolution.
What I’ve come to realize in the last few months is that these things are not toys: they’re vocabulary. And vocabulary is a good thing.
Emoticons are punctuation that you can communicate emotions with. : ) Emojis are actual graphic icons that communicate things. Stickers are like emoji, but they are more elaborate graphics that communicate sentences and phrases. And GIFs are basically moving pictures, or small videos, that capture and communicate a situation and how one feels about it.
If you get nothing else from this post, get one thing:
Take. This. Seriously.
If you’ve never been in a conversation with someone who is skilled with these forms of communication, you’re lacking something. There are people (mostly in China) who communicate best through these methods, and they do it fantastically.
One of the concepts, which I just learned about on the @a16z podcast, is the idea of BouChing (that’s how you pronounce it, not how it’s spelled). This is a Chinese concept where you basically have a collection of perfect responses for various situations.
It’s like a visible, contextual vocabulary.
And the better yours is, the better you can employ it in real conversations, the more respect you get.
That’s brilliant. That’s communication.
It’s not online communication. It’s not millenial communication. It’s just communication.
The internet isn’t online life. It’s life online.
Start taking your BouChing seriously. Figure out the basics of visual communication. Maybe assemble a bag of BouChing yourself.
Don’t be a language purist. Embrace the change.