Are you making Emoji Misunderstandings?

Since the advent of mobile phones and text messages people have been taking things the wrong way, reading tones of voice and attitudes into even the most innocuous communications. The written word is ripe for misunderstanding. These days many text messages and social media updates are filled with emoijis which are causing communication confusion across the board.

This month University of Minnesota has published a study which explored how emojis look on different devices, from Android to iOS and whether the differences in emoji styling can lead to different interpretations. They looked in particular at the “grinning face” emoji which on some platforms looks like a genuine smile, on others an awkward grimace. 

Emoji usage has always fascinated me and I can spend ages examining the nuances of each smiley face to make sure I’m selecting the right one (sad but true), but the smiley face I send from my Apple iOS device may appear very differently on my friends Android phone. 

Earlier this week there was a murder in a town a couple of miles away from where I live. I was watching the tragic story unfold in a Facebook group and one commenter simply added three of these emojis to the post…Emoji MisunderstandingsI was naturally shocked at the Facebook users comment, which to me appeared that she’s found the fact that someone had just been stabbed to death in their own home amusing. It irks me that so many people use this emoji during sad circumstances and according to the University of Minnesota study, this is one of the most misunderstood emojis. I’ve looked at the chart showing all of the different versions of this emoji and it is clear on each device that this is a happy person crying with laughter. But maybe people can’t see beyond the tears.

Emoji Misunderstandings

Just to double check that it wasn’t just me who saw this as a crying with laughter emoji, I threw the question out to the crowd with a Twitter Poll.

Emoji MisunderstandingsI’m not sure how well my results would stack up against the University of Minnesota study, it was a Twitter Poll and I suspect Twitter users are slightly more emoji savvy than Facebook users, and have perfected the art of brevity in their tweets, with tweets being limited to just 140 characters.

Just 32 people responded with 94% agreeing with me that it means “haha so funny I’m crying” and the other 6% saying “Other” with suggestions including happy to be chopping onions and tears of mirth. It is clear from my less than scientific sample that 100% of respondents didn’t think it was the correct emoji to use as a response to a murder.

If a picture can say a thousand words, an emoji can be a handy shorthand to explain an emotion, a reaction or a feeling. If you’re using emojis it’s worth bearing in mind how they may be seen differently by others and and how getting the emoji wrong could make you look. Sometimes it’s easier just to type “that’s so sad”. 

7 responses to “Are you making Emoji Misunderstandings?

  1. munchiesandmunchkins

    I have seen emojis being misused on many occasions and that particular one could really cause upset. I used to hate emojis but on twitter and in texts it can be really useful!

  2. Wow! It never even occurred to me that they could look different on different devices! Kind of defeats the aim of having them in the first place! Eeek. (I have at times, however, wished Facebook had a ‘close comments’ option. Sometimes you just want to share information. You don’t always want people’s comments!)

  3. It is very funny though when you see people using them wrong! Emojis are great fun, you just sometimes have to approach the un-emoji-aware carefully as they may not understand…

  4. I do get confused with emojis but I think your example is clear across the board of devices. It’s the more obscure ones I find confusing. Also, on some games with chat they come up even more confusing…a smile looks like a little alien and a grin like a question mark?

  5. Such a good post – I’m definitely guilty of overusing emojis. I do think carefully before using them, but you just never know how someone else may interpret them!

  6. I totally agree with you. And sometimes people use WAY too many emojis too. But that one is definitely crying with laughter. Like using LOL!! xx

  7. This post reminds me of my mum. She always uses lol as lots of love and not laugh out loud. Bit awkward when she texted me back lol one time after I sent a pretty serious text to her. Obviously can lol about it now !!! But yes didn’t realise the emojis look so different on different devices x

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