Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Emojis as a medium

In Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is the Message, he discusses how the medium used says something about the context of the message.

"This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of ourselves—result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology," McLuhan said.

One new technology that has recently taken off is the iPhone's emoji keyboard.

The emoji can now be used as a full fledged form of communication. It's a whole new language.  The most current iPhone has hundreds of symbols to choose from. This has taken communication via text to a  new level. We can now display how we feel, what we are doing or what we are eating with a symbol.

Domino's has taken this as their latest platform for pizza sales. You can simply text or tweet them a pizza emoji and they will bring you a pizza. Dominos has been selling this new feature with a set of commercials featuring celebrities.


The fact that you can order a pizza without a word being said shows us a lot about the emoji and it's message. Although this seems most convenient, is this a sign for what our generation is coming to? The use of symbols ultimately shows the type of society we are becoming. We can no longer "work for" our pizza. The emoji language is simple, and fun to use, but is it making us lazier?

This shorthand type of communication may be spreading to other areas of our life.


In this video Jimmy Kimmel uses emojis to explain Nikki Minaj's comments to Miley Cyrus at the VMA's. In this segment the emoji medium creates humor in delivering the message.

This comedy sketch demonstrates the ability to tell a story, or communicate with the use of symbols. As the iPhone continues to expand their emoji keyboard, including the addition of race specific emojis, they only become more applicable to everyday life.

If Domino's and Kimmel start an emoji phenomenon how will it change the way we communicate? And when does convenience of the medium start to change the message? Even Kimmel had to orally tell the story of the VMA's along with the visuals. Domino's success, particularly with young audiences, will tell us whether or not emojis are going to be major means of communication.

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