Opinion and Editorial

Give soulless emojis some rest, use words instead

purva@khaleejtimes.com Filed on November 18, 2020

(Raul Mellado / Alamy Stock Photo)

I see verbal communication is dying. Yes, we’re connected, but communication is dead.

At a recent writing workshop, conducted via Zoom, I started the session by requesting the attendees to communicate with one another using words. After all, we’d gathered in a virtual room to learn how to write. I banned the use of thumbs up, even emojis, for the next one hour. As expected, during the first few minutes each time I put forward a question to answer or an instruction to follow I got replies in monosyllables. By the time, we began to work on writing prompts, we’d made some progress and were putting full sentences on papers and screens. The fact is, face-to-face communication among people died years ago. It is no news. Of course, the pandemic was the final nail on the coffin. But from where I stand, I see verbal communication is dying too. Yes, we’re connected, but communication is dead.

As a student of mass communication, I was taught about the importance of a two-way exchange of message between the receiver and sender. Today, the receiver having heard, absorbed, and understood the sender’s message is indicated by two blue tick marks, which you and I both know aren’t always cent per cent correct; and of course, we can switch off that feature as well. We no longer put thought and hence words to communicate. As my colleague Abhishek Sengupta wrote in his column earlier this week, a festive greeting too is a mere, mindless forward. We heart on an Instagram picture, without having looked at it, just as we like posts on Facebook, without even watching the video fully. The words are being used lesser and lesser, with each passing day and innovative technological advancement.

Simply put, the effort required for verbal communication (or whatever is left of it), is nada. Letters, which were once crafted, with hand, are now restricted to school assignment tasks. Yes, even today educators are teaching our kids how to write leave applications to the school principal. When as adults, we’re relying on automated responses that pop up in our inbox. The fact that technology is being able to read with such accuracy every personal/professional mail is a discussion and fear for another day.

How did we get here? How did we so swiftly transform into a generation of emojis, AI drafted mailers, and hashtag-fed interests? We can blame it all on busy lifestyles, tech developments, multi-tasking, etc. The time that we put in making a conversation with one another, may never return. Yes, communication is quick, brief; there is no time for fluff, but can we bring back the words? Can we play with the alphabets and express? You could start by taking a moment before replying to the message that beeped on your phone. Remember, once we take away words from conversations we’re left with hearts, thumbs-up, smileys, GIFs, which are colourful, but lack soul and are bereft of emotions that only words can convey.



Purva Grover

Purva Grover is a journalist, poetess, playwright, and stage director. She made her debut as an author, with The Trees Told Me So, a collection of short stories. She is the editor of Young Times, a magazine that empowers the youth in the UAE. She conducts fortnightly writing workshops, author interaction events, open mic sessions, etc. for the writing fraternity in UAE. Her stage productions have been recognised for their boldness, honesty, and unique voice. She is backed with a post-graduate degree in mass communication and literature. Born & brought up in colourful-chaotic India, she writes in English and currently resides in Dubai, UAE. You can stalk her on Instagram @purvagr and say hello to her at purvagrover.com

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