Has Technology Made Us Social Retards?

The Evolution of Interpersonal Skills

We were recently asked: “Do you think that, though digital dating has opened up more opportunities to meet people than ever before, that same screen-based culture has decreased our interpersonal skills?”

There are arguments for both sides, but we think there’s been more of an evolution of interpersonal skills.  Until we’re replaced by AI and robots (coming soon?), digital communication doesn’t replace real-life interaction - it’s an added dimension.  Instead of having to be charming only in person, we now have to master modern letter-writing.

Doing this well requires time and practice the same way it took time and practice to hone more traditional interpersonal skills, like how to create engaging conversation and what to make of the other person’s facial expression and body language.  Texting is just newer and has a slightly different set of rules and formalities.  For example...

1: You shouldn’t be too wordy

2: And don’t take too long to reply

3: You should probably learn proper emoji usage

4: For the advanced, find the perfect gif to capture the essence of the moment

In just the last two years, technology and machine learning has made giant leaps translating traditional spoken language.  As we evolve how we communicate, many of us could use some help climbing up the learning curve.  That’s why there's Crushh.  

Emojis: The Popular Kid Becomes an Adult

The emoji, or “picture character” in Japanese, has nowadays become an accepted standard for simplifying emotional expression and enriching our conversations online.  Amongst teenagers, it’s easily the most popular non-verbal feature in text messages (older folks try to show interest in other ways).  That seems fitting as the emoji itself is a teenager.   

Emojis have evolved and expanded rapidly since their creation in 1998 or 1999.  There are now 1,394 different ones (1,851 including variations) and we can expect 69 new ones in June (which includes the shushh and Pinocchio face…🙌🏼 ).  There’s no doubt emojis and emoji usage will keep evolving, and as that happens, it’s important to understand their meaning will as well.

But for those of you who aren’t working to decipher the meaning like we are, we’d like to point out some interesting discoveries on usage.  Last year, researchers from the University of Michigan and Peking University published a study on emoji usage across nearly 4 million smartphone users in 212 countries and regions.  They analyzed a month’s worth of messages, or 427 million to be exact, from September 2015.  The research found that 😂 “face with tears of joy” is by far the most used emoji, comprising 15% of the total symbols in the study.

In second place they found the ❤️ “red heart” and in third place is 😍 “smiling face with heart-eyes.”  Their findings are more or less in line with emoji usage on Twitter.  

So if you thought you were special because your crush sent you a ❤️ or a 😍, you might want to think again.  These emojis are now so overused, and often in a non-romantic context, that their significance gets diluted. 

According to the study, the French use emojis more than any others, followed by Russians and then Americans.  In addition, the romantic French embrace icons associated with hearts, while users from other countries prefer emojis related to faces.  Remember that the next time you get a ❤️ from that hot French exchange student.  It might as well be a 😊.  So don’t feel bad about replying with a 💩 – it’ll at least show more originality.  

K, Wrap It Up Mom

“Not sure if I’m going out later”

That text is about how long the average text is.  Remember that the next time you want to thumb out a novel on your phone.  Well, unless you’re older or want to come across as such.

It turns out the older you are, the longer your text messages tend to be.  The following tracks average characters per text by age across several thousand Americans.

Looking at men and women separately, there doesn’t seem to much of a difference between genders up until the early 20s.

After that point, women get much wordier than men.  And that increase seems to rise with age.  It’s worth pointing out that there’s a sizeable subset of men who will write shorter responses as they enter their late 30s, but they’ve been more than offset by the more verbose ones, at least in our data.

So the next time your mom writes an essay or your teenage kid seems too busy to give you the time of day, remember, that’s just how they text.

2017 Will Be A Big Year For Artificial Intelligence

Jarvis AI

Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg shared his thoughts on his most recent personal project, Jarvis, which is an AI program he created himself.  The note is a great read for anyone interested in artificial intelligence, or even those who have ever just been curious how Siri, Alexa, or their Google Assistant works.  

In the coming year, it seems there will be a lot of focus on making machines more intelligent.  Where the head of a technology company chooses to spend their time is often a good indication of where the resources under them will flow.  At Crushh, we're focused on the same thing, but with the specific goal of helping people understand each other.  There's a good amount of work to be done, and the challenges are well captured in Zuckerberg's own words below.  We're excited for the work ahead!

I’ve previously predicted that within 5-10 years we’ll have AI systems that are more accurate than people for each of our senses — vision, hearing, touch, etc, as well as things like language. It’s impressive how powerful the state of the art for these tools is becoming, and this year makes me more confident in my prediction.

At the same time, we are still far off from understanding how learning works. Everything I did this year — natural language, face recognition, speech recognition and so on — are all variants of the same fundamental pattern recognition techniques. We know how to show a computer many examples of something so it can recognize it accurately, but we still do not know how to take an idea from one domain and apply it to something completely different.

To put that in perspective, I spent about 100 hours building Jarvis this year, and now I have a pretty good system that understands me and can do lots of things. But even if I spent 1,000 more hours, I probably wouldn’t be able to build a system that could learn completely new skills on its own — unless I made some fundamental breakthrough in the state of AI along the way.

In a way, AI is both closer and farther off than we imagine. AI is closer to being able to do more powerful things than most people expect — driving cars, curing diseases, discovering planets, understanding media. Those will each have a great impact on the world, but we’re still figuring out what real intelligence is.
— Mark Zuckerberg

New Design, Thanks Black Mirror

We'll be launching our new design which was inspired by this season's Black Mirror Episode:  Nosedive.  It's a real thought-provoking story so if you haven't already, go watch it!  And then download our app for a taste of the real thing.  They created an app themselves (https://rateme.social/) but we think ours is cooler, no bias.  And we're trying to make the world a less scary place.  

#FAT – Failed Acronym Thursdays/Thanksgiving (Part 4)

Happy FAT Thanksgiving!  And we’re referring to the next iteration of our Failed Acronym Thursdays, not just the end-result of you stuffing yourselves.  In honor of this family-oriented holiday, we present the family edition of funny acronym fails.   

1. Your mom's expecting you WTF!

2. Sometimes you just got to gamble - like this mom.

3. And sometimes you miss...lol

4. We didn't even think it was possible to misunderstand this emoji. Well done, Mumma Bear!

5. We still have no idea what this mom was referring to!

6. Welcome to Facebook, Dad!

We hope this lightens up your Thanksgiving dinner :)

The Many Flavors of "Okay"

When ‘k’ isn’t okay...

It’s 2016, when ‘k’ is no longer ‘okay’ or even okay.  We’ve all been texting long enough now to know good texting is all about showing effort, so anything too short comes off as snippy.  Text ‘k’ to someone and be prepared for anything.

For those of you who aren’t fluent in the many flavors of ‘okay’, you might want to read on.

How someone reads your single word ‘k’, ‘ok’, ‘okay’ or ‘okay..’ text usually depends on the person.  So firstly, know your audience.  Generally, the younger the person you’re texting, the worse things sound.  Same rule applies the closer that person is to being a girl you’re wooing.  So, text “k” to a college-aged girl making date plans, and you could expect an internal diatribe like the one above.  On the other hand, text that to your middle-aged father and he’ll probably appreciate your succinctness.

There’s no surefire route through this minefield of potential miscommunication.  Much depends on personality and context, like what the exchange leading up to this conversation killer looked like.  But below are some rough translations…

That’s all for today’s lesson…mmkay?

#FAT – Failed Acronym Thursdays (Part 3)

In the spirit of #FAT Thursdays, here are some funnies to lighten up your day.  These don’t come from texts, but are just as hilarious…

1. Don’t think the word “shit” exists in the Spanish language. That’s the only explanation

18-hilarious-acronym-fails-that-gave-things-a-whole-new-meaning-8-cracked-me-up-06.jpg

2. Authorized Service Shop, Authorized Ass Shop, Authorized Ass Service… This company offers different services – obviously!

3. This should make people run the other way! I would definitely apply for a different school! Lol

4. Should we panic or remain calm?

5. Hmmm, wonder what they really learn at this school…

Sorry, I don't think acronyms work like that

The Different Type of I Love You's

There are lots of ways to express your love and respect for someone. The most timeless expression, “I love you,” however now holds varying degrees of gravity thanks to texting.

Let’s take a look:

1.

FullSizeRender
FullSizeRender

The most common variant of the standard “I love you.” It’s also the safest one too. It’s been used so much that it has lost its significance as a declaration and a milestone in a relationship. Based on my personal experiences, “ily” has become synonymous with a thank you.

Thanks for buying me breakfast, ily!!!

2.

FullSizeRender-1.jpg

I luv u, I luv you, I luv ya. All usually mean the same thing. It’s a flippant expression. This variation takes away the big commitment of the standard “I love you.” It’s both a term of endearment and a closing message. “Luv ya” is reserved for a friend.

FullSizeRender-2.jpg

3.

This is the one with the most substance and meaning. This is the real deal. Once you press the send button, there’s no going back. Saying it over text is definitely easier than saying it online but still holds some degree of nervousness. You say this when you mean it. Don’t forget to include that period!

OH, don’t forget “Rawr!”

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That’s debatable though…

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#FAT - Failed Acronym Thursday (Part 1)

LOL-1.jpg

Introducing a new blog series consisting of acronym fails, here we have today's focus: Parent's textingWith texting becoming one of the main platforms for communication, the use of acronyms have virtually increased. While teens understand a gist of the common phrases, parents, on the other hand, have yet to get the memo. 

Here are a couple of funny fails that adults have had with acronyms!

(1)

LOL-1.jpg

Mom really is bringing a new meaning behind 'LOL' !

(2)

lol-2.jpg

alright mom, I tried

(3)

LOL-3-e1468530166947.jpg

Gee thanks mom.. I guess ..

(4)

LOL-4.jpg

Know your acronyms!

See you next week for a new #FAT ! #GetCrushhed

5 Emojis We Need to Stop Using IMMEDIATELY

  1. “Face With Tears of Joy”
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.14.30 PM
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.14.30 PM

What it is: Presumably, the face one makes after winning the lottery, or watching a particularly hilarious comedy, or whilst sobbing uncontrollably and under the influence of nitrous oxide.

Why it’s egregious: This is probably the most overused expression in the emoji canon. I’ve seen far too many unfunny memes, recycled text posts, and Vine compilations accompanied with some inane caption and an unending chain of these crying faces. When was the last time you honestly laughed so hard that you CRIED at the sight of a litter of puppies, or some twelve-year-old lip-syncing to hardcore rap, or some wannabe Wilt Chamberlain wiping out on the basketball court? This face is the poster child of lowbrow Internet humor. This face haunts my dreams. This face must not be used unironically in conversation with ANYONE, or your texting partner will be running for the hills. Branch out, people.

  1. “Information Desk Person”
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.15.52 PM
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.15.52 PM

What it is: Surprisingly, a pseudo-secretary/receptionist type holding up an invisible tray of drinks, NOT a sassy bellhop or snarky woman intent on correcting your grammar. This young lady is engaging in some super fun pantomime!

Why it’s egregious: It’s blatantly misused. Far from an expression of flippancy or cheek, this emoji actually connotes a mindless willingness to serve that is totally antithetical to the self-reliance associated with White Girl Sass. I would avoid using it casually over text, lest your texting partner call you out for being too "basic" or "servile." Unless you meant to say, "How may I help you?," steer clear of this tired cliché.

  1. “Weary Face”
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.25.15 PM
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.25.15 PM

What it is: An expression of tiredness, dissatisfaction, and/or grief. Its pain resonates almost viscerally. I want to give it a hug, and tell it that it's all going to be fine.

Why it’s egregious: Like the aforementioned crying/happy face, this old chestnut is overused as accompaniment to generally unfunny web content. Its misuse has been so widespread that Weary Face has now become associated with a highly charged sensual pleasure. We all have that one friend who can't post, tweet, or text about pleasures ranging from chicken nuggets, to devil's food cake to Kate Upton without tacking this face on, too. Its cries have become your yearning moans. Terrifying. Make it stop.

  1. “See-No-Evil Monkey”
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.47.02 PM
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.47.02 PM

What it is: Mizaru, the first of the three wise monkeys/mystic apes. If you're into Japanese maxims or don't live under a rock where no capital-C Culture can possibly reach you, you're probably well acquainted with this willfully blind macaque.

Why it’s egregious: It's constantly being used to represent a mushy unwillingness to not look at or admit to something. ("I'm such a fragile little creature; I don't want to see that!") Not only will your texting partner immediately call you out on your tackiness upon incorrectly using our old pal Mizaru, but you'll end up feeling like a fool. There is nothing endearing about a misuse of a Japanese proverb just so you could feel cute for a hot second.

  1. “Clinking Beer Mugs”
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 4.02.01 PM
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 4.02.01 PM

What it is: The Convergence of the Twain: two beer steins become one. The happiest of unions. The consummation of a toast, no doubt. A light "ding" for the ages. Both cups runneth over with foam. Cheers indeed.

Why it’s egregious: Usually people text me this emoji even though I know they're just drinking alone. Sad. Avoid such an impulse; be truthful with your texting partner and send them the solitary Beer Mug instead.

Happy texting, and don't forget to #GetCrushhed!

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5 Emojis with Untapped Potential

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Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 2.14.23 PM

1. “Smiling Face With Open Mouth and Cold Sweat”

What it is: This (seemingly) happy fella has a countenance that smacks of mild embarrassment, casual defeat, and/or an unusually intense enjoyment in perspiring, depending on how you see it.

Why it’s so much more: Use this emoji as an opportunity to transcend cloying cutesiness and instead hit your texting partner with a cognitively dissonant one-two punch. For example, consider typing “Whoops! Just realized I deleted the entirety of my thesis from my hard drive!” and then adding in our moist friend here for good measure. Alternatively, if some clown won’t stop messaging you and can’t take a hint, consider sending, “I’m moving to Nepal and giving up all earthly possessions! Please never text me again!” and hit them with the sweat-smiley to soften the blow. In any case, you’ll be engaging in some next-level emoji-ing.

2. “Smiling Cat With Heart-Shaped Eyes”

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 2.15.40 PM
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 2.15.40 PM

What it is: This emoji certainly lives up to its name. A favorite among feline lovers, to be sure, or people who mistakenly think that cats are capable of positive emotion.

Why it’s so much more: The weirdly vast cat emoji library comes with its own social baggage. Opting to use these instead of standard smileys is a sign of growth and comfort in any relationship. Throw your texting partner one of these as a display of commitment, as in, “I care about you so much that I’m going to scroll past those boring yellow faces and express my love to you via this happy tabby.” After all, cats can be playful sometimes, right?

3. “Upside-Down Face”

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Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 2.03.34 PM

What it is: A subversively brilliant inversion of what our culture has come to recognize as a “smiley face.” A 180-degree transformation of all we thought was possible. What the normal happy emoji would look like if we all lived upside-down, like bats. A revolutionary symbol for this generation.

Why it’s so much more: Last fall Buzzfeed praised this emoji’s utility in regards to levity, passive-aggression, and sarcasm. The slight smile, the dead eyes, the refreshingly novel orientation of the face—it could literally mean anything. That’s why you should take more stock in this little guy. It could be a space filler, a sassy retort, a stand-in for an apology, or an expression of thinly veiled disgust. This is the Swiss army knife of emojis. Respect its hustle.

4. “Man in Business Suit Levitating”

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 2.20.36 PM
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 2.20.36 PM

What it is: According to Emojipedia, the web’s most exhaustive Emoji Bible, this puzzling figure is meant to represent an exclamation point modeled after the "rude boy" logo made famous by English ska band The Specials. This is a weirdly specific explanation that itself merits an explanation.

Why it’s so much more: Let your texting partner know that you are firmly in the domain of "IDGAF" when it comes to messaging by using this little guy. If they're too confounded by this symbol--is it Tommy Lee Jones from "Men in Black?" A jazz cat in a zoot suit? Some sort of snappily dressed magician?--then consider if you even want to continue texting this person at all. If they can't handle Man in Business Suit Levitating, how can they handle a deep conversation with you, or even a casual flirtation?

5. “Aubergine”

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 2.36.15 PM
Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 2.36.15 PM

What it is: I mean, it’s an eggplant.

Why it’s so much more: Ahh, eggplant emoji. You beautiful, gently curved, overtly phallic vegetable. It's so widely recognized as a visual euphemism that you can't search for pictures on Instagram via "#🍆." Soon, booty calls and dating apps will be all but defunct once we all realize we should just be sending each other eggplants. So as not to be cis-male-normative, see also: "Peach," "Pear," "Honey Pot," "Bento Box," etc. Whatever floats your boat re: visual codes with your partner of choice.

Happy texting, and don't forget to #GetCrushhed!

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XOXO: You’ve Been Kissing the People You Should’ve Been Hugging.

We all know what XOXO means. Ending our letters and goodbyes with a stream of x’s and o’s is something we all do. Remember how Gossip Girl ended every blog post: “You know you love me, XOXO Gossip Girl.” But let’s take the acronym apart for a second. Now, you know that one letter signifies hugs and the other kisses. But which is which? From what I can tell, most people think that “X” means hugs and “O” means the kiss--75%, to be exact. They’d suggest that the “X” looks like two people embracing so it should signify hugs while the “O” looks like a mouth puckering up for a kiss. But according to history, those people are wrong.

Two centuries ago, not a lot of people were literate. Some of them didn’t know how to sign a document with their own legal names so they would simply sign a “X” and it would be regarded as their signature. They would then kiss the “X” as a bible was usually kissed to express the importance of it. This led to the “X” mark symbolizing a kiss.

Tracing the history of the “O” is a bit more difficult and this theory is just speculation. When Jewish immigrants arrived to the U.S., they refused to use the “X” because they claimed it invoked Christian beliefs. Using it didn’t sit well with their own beliefs. As a result, illiterate people who came to the U.S. would sign their documents with an “O.” Over time, the "O" came to represent a hug.

At the end of the day, what something means is determined by the people who use it. I guess for most people, swapping makes more sense. And if we follow the traditional meaning of Xs and Os, the saying should really be “kisses and hugs, kisses and hugs,” which doesn’t have the same ring as “hugs and kisses, hugs and kisses.”

Just make sure the person on the other end knows what you mean, or just do it in real life.