Emojis have slid into your DMs

Sophie Au, Design Editor

LOL: Lots Of Love or Laugh Out Loud? Is the 🙏 used to clap or to pray? In the age of rapid communication via cell phones, texts with abbreviations, shortened words and emojis convey thoughts with less effort and less characters.

Text Messaging

Short Message Service, the first form of texting in cell phones, was the pioneer of sending short messages quickly from one phone to another. Originally limited to 160 characters, SMS users needed to pack whole sentences into a couple of phrases, which eventually gave way to an essentially new type of language, nowadays known as textism or textese. 

“When I started using Instagram and social media, abbreviations were quite new to me,” sophomore Vrishank Chandrasekhar said. “But after a while, it’s easier to understand.”

To send messages quicker, run-on sentences and lack of punctuation are forgiven as long as the receiver understands the message like spoken conversation. Common trends include replacing entire words with one letter and acronyms for common phrases, though meanings may be confused through short messages.

“If it’s a more serious topic, and I accidently put an exclamation, it just sounds kind of off,” senior Teresa Chen said. “My friends might be a little confused, but I think they understand it anyway.”


Developed by cell phone developer and artist Shigetaka Kurita in the late 1990s, emojis further helped texters save characters in messages by depicting emotions, symbols and ideas in small images. Since then, emojis have evolved to become an essential part of communication and internet culture.

“When it comes to texting, words are really just words,” Chandraeskhar said. “There’s not much tone compared to emojis or sending a random video of yourself crying.”

Having multiple unique uses is part of the criteria for a new emoji, though it may lead to misunderstandings of the emoji’s meanings. 

“Some people don’t use emojis because they think it’s extra,” senior Sruti Elangovan said. “If you’re texting you can’t really convey the same tone as actual speech, so if it’s light hearted, you might as well just add an emoji to show that.”

As convenient as texting is, short messages are often misunderstood; the same message with varied wording or acronyms can completely change how it’s perceived. With the increased usage of texting within younger generations, it is important to separate and distinguish conventions for both formal English and casual texting.
“Sometimes I do use abbreviations in real life too, like ‘BRB’ or ‘ILY,’ ”Elangovan said. “It’s easier to say and just sneaks into normal English.”
While textism can occasionally slip into formal English, textism can exist as a language in addition to English — a separate set of words that people communicate in.