People are still using typed emojis

SMS and WhatsApp - what if ... we just leave out emojis?

WhatsApp messages without emojis are rarely found. Why, actually, our editor wondered, and decided in future to communicate embarrassed monkeys and thumbs-up signs without blinking smileys.

Every eighth word in a WhatsApp conversation between the ages of 0 and 17 is an emoji. For 18 to 24 year olds it is still every 21st word, the age group 25 to 34 years then only puts an emoji in every 24th position. These results come from a survey by the University of Zurich for the What's Up Switzerland research project.

Under the direction of Professor Elisabeth Stark, linguists from Switzerland are examining, among other things, the interplay of text and images in modern communication. It is noticeable that in the 35 to 49 age group, the number of emojis used drops drastically to every 51st word, then it soars again to every 24th word. Surprisingly, 50 to 64-year-olds use the same number of colorful pictures as their half-age people.

However, these figures are not necessarily representative for the whole of Switzerland, explains Dr. Christina Siever. The research assistant points out that a large part of the data comes from students. Nevertheless, conclusions could be drawn about the company.

Like most of the people around me, I belong to the most emoji-lazy age group. And yet there are days when I find the flood of brightly illustrated messages that have to be deciphered and answered as sweaty.

Emoji facts (Source:

  • Emojis are pictograms that indicate emotional states, objects, places, food, animals or the like.
  • The Unicode standard currently recognizes 2,823 emojis.
  • The 😂 (Face With Tears Of Joy) was one of the most popular emojis in 2018.
  • Around 700 million emojis are used on Facebook every day.
  • On July 17th we celebrate World Emoji Day.
  • December 31st is the day most emojis are sent worldwide.

force of habit

I am by no means as popular as it may seem, but rather owe this to my role as a family communication center.

So while I am signing up for a jogging session again, meeting my daughter with her friend, apologizing for my son from playing football and accepting a birthday invitation in the same breath, I suddenly notice how often my thumb twitches to the left and my answers with laughing, apologetic ones or kissing pictograms.

And it doesn't just seem like me - the group chats are teeming with thumbs up, waving hands and flashing birthday candles. Why?

I made the decision to forego emojis in the future. A resolution that will not prove to be so easy ...

Save time with emojis

The question of why adults tend to send childish-looking pictures back and forth leaves me with no peace of mind.

On the one hand, emojis appear as informality markers, explains Christina Siever of this phenomenon. In other words, they give news a linguistic touch. Furthermore, emojis have an economic function, so if things have to be done quickly, instead of giving a formulated answer, we simply give “thumbs up”. And emojis can have a tinting function, that is, they make it clear how a message is meant. Because other means such as facial expressions and gestures are omitted in written communication, which is why we like to mark irony or ambiguity with a winking smiley.

Explanations that make sense. But is the symbol really typed faster than a simple «ok»? The dog is buried somewhere else.

Even without extensive research, it becomes clear that an emoji-free message is also completely devoid of charm. Typed soberly, the answer “I would like to come to your party” seems much more emotionless than when it is accompanied by euphoric smileys.

It is less about the person who wrote the message and more about the recipient and his or her interpretation of what has been written.

This is also made clear by surveys. Messages without emojis appear serious and emotionless, which is why everyone agrees that emojis are inappropriate in formal correspondence, for example business correspondence. Conversely, one could conclude from this: If there are no emojis, there is no personal touch. The writing seems cold and is often interpreted as loveless.


Strange but true: it is difficult to do without emojis. Who wants to be perceived as emotionless and cold ...

My attempt on myself has not completely failed, however, I use emojis much more sparingly and trust that my WhatsApp conversation partners know how happy I am about their message, how much I like them and look forward to our next meeting.

So my personal answer to the question of why we use emojis is: power of habit. We do it because everyone does.

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