By Radosław Miernik · Published on
I. Like. Dots. Okay, not like that, but I’m this kind of person who always ends their sentence with a dot. And trust me – when I say always, I mean it. I do so everywhere – not only in the “official channels” like work-related emails or chats with a client – everywhere, including private text messages and every instant messaging app, like Messenger or Slack.
The weird part is that I have no idea why. I’m simply used to do so, at least as far as I can remember. It feels normal and more natural – somehow required by the form of a “proper sentence”. I know, it’s obvious for a linguist, but not so much for
an average internet user the standards of online communication.
But hey, we have emojis1. Maybe we all could agree to use them… instead? For some people, emojis are far more expressive and better suited than
punchlines dots. Let’s try this now, I think 🤷
The dot itself has many names: period, full stop, full point… Let’s just stick to the not-entirely-correct2 dot. There is, of course, a lot of other punctuation marks, like the exclamation and question marks, comma, colon, semicolon, and ellipsis. While the others are not used that often, the most common one is troublesome in a weird way.
Let’s address the elephant in the room – people find “finished” sentences less sincere, harsh, and even rude. I guess that the lack of non-verbal signals in the written communication really makes a difference. If the text is all we have, we guess what the emotions are. And people are bad at guessing.
I think that most people read all texts in a similar manner – guided by their emotions. In short: if you are happy, most messages feel positive; if you are not, then well, so are the messages. And the sad part is that people are rarely happy.
How are emojis different? Well, above all, they are hard3. Besides that, they carry something we could call an emotional charge. Let me give you an example: “I agree.” is fine, but 👍 feels more… Cheerful? Pleasant? Compassionate?
Another good example is the “problem” that arose around the good ol’ “:)”. As the 😆 emoji got more popular, the ASCII smiley face shifted towards the lands of “passive-aggressive” communication. While it’s still a smile, for some reason, a nice and short “It’s fine :)” seems odd, almost eerie.
On the other hand, I have to say that the idea of reacting to messages with all kinds of emojis is brilliant. I no longer have to send these awkward “OK.” every single time4 – a single 👍, ✔️ or 🆗 reaction does the job. And both 🚀 and 🎉 are superior to any text counterpart I could ever imagine.
The dark side of emoji is that people are even worse at “reading emotions” or, more generally, the intent of a message. If there’s no emoji or strongly stated goodwill, it may (and often will) be considered mean. No one likes that.
That leads us to the world of something I’d call a “forced positivity”. If you’ve played chess on Chess.com5, you may have noticed that if you win, there’s a “You Won!” alert. That’s normal, right? Definitely, but then if you lose, the alert says “Black Won”/“White Won” instead of “You Lost!”.
I’m not sure whether I like the “new normal” better than the old one. A part of me loves it – I’d do just fine without anxiety strikes caused by the
emotion-less emotion-free messages I receive. The rest is strongly against, as we all play this game, not always actually meaning it. Emojis became the new small talk.
Where are we now? Plain text bad, emoji good. And what about the rest? Most punctuation can be used as “a means of emotionalizing a text”. As you’ve already noticed, I take it to the extreme (at least in this blog). For example, if you’d like to
try to be funny, just strike some text – as you’d typically do on a piece of paper. (Success is not guaranteed.)
It varies between people, but “air quotes” work just as well as in a face-to-face communication. Same for changing your tone and being bold. And if you really need to behave in a certain way, just say it, okay? *rolls eyes*
Ultimately, we have memes. That’s right – all these “funny images” out there can be used as a last resort way of communication. Well, they aren’t just that – I know quite a few people who use them exclusively. But they rather stick to GIFs instead of images. I have to admit, it works pretty well, but you have to know who you are dealing with – otherwise it may be pretty awkward.
I don’t really know what the purpose of this text is. I guess I just wanted to express my somewhat unusual stance towards modern communication. It may sound cheesy, but I’m amazed how emojis and memes stormed the world of enterprise communication. At least the day-to-day one.
I’ll keep 👍-ing others. You do you.
By emoji, I mean only the “official” Unicode characters (and character groups), like 😄 and 😛 – not emoticons, like “:-)” and “:P”. Keep in mind that the style of all emojis may differ between systems and software versions.
A dot is the
. symbol. The correct name would be either full stop or period.
There’s a lot of great articles on why emoji is hard. Most of them cover only the programmer’s perspective, like “Emoji under the hood” from Tonsky, but the problem is much bigger. The unicode standard, where the emojis
live are defined, has an actual impact on the physical world. The
unicode tag on Stack Overflow already has over 23 thousand questions!
Yes, I do that as well. I really lack a more humane way of “sending an
It got trendy recently, especially among Twitch streamers. All of that thanks to an excellent Netflix miniseries: “The Queen’s Gambit”.