Communication via text messaging isn’t always pretty. Who among us hasn’t sent a text only to receive “???” in reply? Fucking autocorrect. Entire websites exist to chronicle this modern scourge and its countless victims. Lest we forget this timeless classic:
It turns out, however, that autocorrect and its close cousin, fat-fingering, aren’t the only potential sources of modern communication mishaps. A recent study from University of Minnesota research lab GroupLens illustrates how those ubiquitous winking, heart-eyed, kissy-face icons used to communicate feelings and emotions may not be so innocent and sweet after all.
Researchers at the lab found two sources that had “significant potential
- different operating systems render emoji differently
- the same emoji rendering can be interpreted differently
How, you might ask, is it possible that in this advanced age of technology and communication—a time when rocket boosters can autonomously land themselves after take off—can something as simple as a pictograph confuse us? As one of the study’s authors notes in a blog post about the research, “two people looking at the exact same emoji on the same smartphone platform can interpret that emoji quite differently. For example, in the case of the Apple emoji , there were some people who thought it was more positive while others thought it was more negative.”
To put it in terms of a cliche, a picture is worth a thousand words, but there’s a good chance that the thousand words I associate with the image will differ from yours. So it’s up to you, dear friend, to determine whether or not my use of means I’m clapping for you, praying for something, or we are gloriously hi fiving (it’d be weird, but we could be wearing the same color shirt).]]>