It’s easy to lump emojis in with computer-speak like “brb” or worse yet, the tendency to send abbreviated texts instead of making connections through phone calls or in person. However, some researchers say that emojis can actually be beneficial to relationships.
Wait a minute…how can that be true? After all, sending a smiley face that’s laughing so hard it’s crying isn’t exactly akin to writing a heartfelt missive to a loved one or actually looking into someone’s eyes while you speak to them, right?
Sure, that may be true, but emojis do have one major advantage over acronyms like “LOL,” according to Vyv Evans, a linguistics expert from the UK.
Evans explains that unlike an acronym such as “LOL,” emojis can help approximate facial expressions, which are one of the hallmarks of interpersonal communication. This can be especially helpful when communicating via text or email, since it is often hard to understand or interpret the tone of someone’s words without voice inflections and facial expressions.
However, when someone includes a smiley face or a winking smiley into the same message, it can be made more clear that the author is joking around or making a light-hearted comment not meant to be taken seriously.
Obviously, you don’t need a string of thirteen laughing and crying emojis to illustrate that you found a joke or a meme funny, but in other situations, emojis can be really helpful in relating intent or emotion. In fact, the full range of emojis available include many nuanced facial expressions that can indicate such particular feelings as contempt, suspicion, disbelief, or shocked amusement.
Still not convinced? Enter our friends at Match.com, who have done a little bit of research of their own. They surveyed American single men and women and found out that not only did singles who use emojis more often tend to go on more dates than their text-exclusive counterparts, but they also had sex much more often, as well! That should definitely provide more of an incentive to include a winky face every now and then.
Emojis may seem lazy, and they certainly don’t take a lot of effort, but they have an advantage over text-based communication: they can easily convey emotions without the need for the kind of facial expressions you normally have to see in person. Next time you make a sarcastic comment online, maybe throw in an emoji so that others will know what you really mean.