Emoticons or emojis are the little faces with expressions. We use them in our text messages to convey a host of feelings. They can be used to convey our thoughts for distant as well as personal relations. They are quick to use and let the other person know you are thinking – of them, about them. But books, magazines, and newspapers are devoid of these little yellow faces.
The reasons are many. I have tried to capture my take on why writers do not use emojis.
Emojis do not convey the right message: An emoji is a smiling, grinning or laughing face. But, it cannot capture what a character thinks and feels when their expression changes from a smile to outright laughter. On someone’s achievement, people use the thumbs emoji to show their appreciation. But, it will not capture: is the person proud of the achiever? How happy are they with the achievement? Do they appreciate the hard work behind the achievement?
Emojis will not create experiences: Books help people live vicariously. Words help the reader share the experience with the character. The experience should linger with the reader long after the last page of the book is read. One of my best moments from books that I carry use till today is the last sentence from Gone with the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day.” These words capture the realisation, rejection, dejection, and hope of Scarlett O’Hara. An emoji would have failed, spectacularly.
Emojis cannot capture the differences of action: An emoji kiss is just that, a kiss. But, a good writer knows kiss can be so much more. A mother pressing her lips to her stillborn’s forehead, a father blowing kisses to a cut on the knee, a lover seeking solace in their partner’s lips, a child tiptoeing to peck a weathered cheek, a man bending to kiss the priests hand… the list is endless. An emoji is not moments loved and cherished: they are moments lived and lost.
Emojis lack the ability to understand nuances: In mathematics and chemistry, results can either be equal or equivalent. Therein lie the subtle differences. Let us look at angry: it can mean exasperated, annoyed, fuming, raving, vexed, seething and more. A good writer would capture the differences between a seething or annoyed teacher adult. An emoji, sadly, can show angry and.furious.
Let me end by saying that writers believe in show and not tell. An emoticon hows the writer as lazy or incompetent: All the examples above are used to show the range of emotions a writer can work with while creating story and character arcs. Using an emoji just shows that they are not willing to put in the effort or that they lacks the intelligence to use words.