Nothing against emojis – except everything

In The Woo by Jeff PeytonLeave a Comment

When I heard that someone had taken the time to translate the Holy Bible into Emoji, my first thought was to write a blog post in Emoji. But I can’t. Which is to say that I can, but I won’t.

Words, you see, mean things. Actual, specific things. Used with precision, words can wound – they can cut, they can punch. And they can heal. They can sway. Deter. Inspire. The cadence of a well-crafted sentence requires a broad vocabulary. Meaning simply cannot be conveyed by a smiley, unicorn or thumbs-up.

When emojis first arrived the scene, I paid little attention. Seemed another silly text fad. When the Chevy commercial relied on emojis to sell cars to millennials, I wondered how much that effort wasted.

But then I thought, I must be missing something. In a very short span, we’ve gone from actual words (laugh out loud) to shorthand (LOL) to emoticons <:-) to emojis. We’ve gone from kids texting and tweeting to sophisticated advertising to actual published works. And not just any published works.

We’re talking about The Bible. In Emoji.


Emoji is not a language. Strictly speaking, Emoji barely meets the academic definition of “communication.”

No, I’m not being old and stodgy. “Communication” requires a signal (the emoji) to be sent, received and understood. (Otherwise, that would be miscommunication.) A textbook example would be the story of a guy walking through the park who sees a pretty girl waving and waves back, only to discover that she was actually waving at another guy standing near him. Emojis are a lot like that.

If you and I are communicating, one-to-one, my use of a clever emoji to highlight my point – in context that you are already privy to – is perfectly acceptable. But when emojis are used broadly, they lose their personal touch, and with it their deeper (if any) meaning.

Jeff Peyton
Don’t be fooled by Jeff’s accomplishments in communications, crisis and business management. He also wing-walked on an airplane at 700 feet, co-piloted the Goodyear Blimp and swam with sharks – and still managed to obtain paperwork officially declaring him “legally sane.” Really.

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