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.