how emots saved the world

It is well known that non-verbal level  is crucial for all kind of communication. We have generic capability to decode information from micro-expressions of our faces, intonation of voice, gestures, body, etc. As inter-cultural psychology claims we all have the same set of ‚basic’ emotions, as cultural anthropology revealed each culture has its one way to express them so we need to learn how to ‚read’ them. But both disciplines agree that this kind of communication is necessary for maintaining social relations. Without non-verbal communication we probably won’t survive as a society. Of course not only human societies use it, we didn’t invent it, just inherited.

For most of our history we practiced verbal+non-verbal or just non- verbal communication (just think about music and visual art). 10K years ago we’ve invented something new, that  enabled us to pass only verbal information – it was a writing, of course. It was very convenient when it comes to sole info like number of cows, orders to vassals and so on. But things get complicated when we wanted to express our feelings. So  we developed our language, i.a. poetry. Then we invented simple punctuation. When literacy became more common we invented exclamation.  Guess that it had to have something in common with medieval knightly culture and courtly romance.  All those oh! and ah! in fantasies about tragic love like Tristan and Isolde, you know. But still reading was rather public event so the lector could have add a lot of  non-verbal communicates while reading.

But think what happened when we invented short messages. Yes, telegraph was first of that kind, but it was SMS who build common need for more sophisticated punctuation. I’m sure that everyone had bad experience with joking during sms- or chat-talk. You type something that is obviously joke, normally she or he would ‚read’ it from your face or voice but without this non-verbal message the other person takes it literally and feels offended. You cannot explain every joke because you have only 160 letters and because you are self-respecting intelligent woman and everyone should understand your jokes ;) Yes, this is the moment  when emoticons save you.

Without emots we would be lost in a world of subtle interpersonal relationships shortened to the length of fb status as an autistic person.They can express  one emotions as well as produce the desired emotions in interlocutor. Now one know either you are serious, ironic, upset, happy or sad. Just imagine how many arguing you avoid every day just by using them. /I’m sure that very expensive and very long research will prove that women use more emots than men and that they use more smileys than aggressive faces.Also that men more likely use emots instead of explicit express of positive emotions or all that ‚hugs’, ‚kisses’./ Emots also help you to express your identity. If you say something banal about life but enrich it with parenthesis and a colon you will become an incurable optimist or existential philosopher!

This text is humorous but also affects a serious problem  that appears to me while I was analyzing relationships mediated by the Internet. Because of our physiological conditioning  it seems that the deep bonds are formed by direct contact, one which involves the body. Therefore the question arises: what happens between people when contacted only by a machine? Do they really need to meet in ‚reality’ to formulate community like effective social movement? You can find such  way of thinking in Manuel Castelles texts or in statements of young hackers in a movie about Anonymous.  But maybe our bodies (brains specifically) just will learn to produce all those necessary emotions just from words on our monitors. And from punctuation, of course :p


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