According to Aristotle, a Greek philosopher of Ancient Greece, human beings are social animals; they naturally seek the companionship of others as part of their well-being. Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers and those who worked together well survived and passed on their genes to the next generation. This explains why each one of us needs to be connected to a family, community and a nation. In these diverse groups we become more creative, diligent and hard working and thrive. Group interaction is to one’s own good and to the group as a whole. Hardwired to be social beings, each one seeks to be accepted in the group, affirmed, approved and acknowledged. It gives a sense of belonging and stirs us up to want to do more, be more and brings out the best in each one of us.
Franklin Roosevelt said: “It goes back to the basic idea of society and of a nation itself that people acting in a group accomplish things which no individual acting alone could even hope to bring about.”
When you are rejected by the group, you feel inadequate, unlovable, you feel not nurtured, cherished or guided. You grow up yearning to be more perfect and lovable and to be more worthy. You go through life looking for a home.
Like the wild animals, our ancestors first communicated with each other by sounds and movements but as they evolved and the environment changed, they began to communicate their thoughts, ideas and feelings through the spoken word. Language, a form of complex communication, was born out of the need to how best to survive. The language helped them to communicate with each other as they hunted, helped them to depend on others thus giving them a survival advantage. As there were numerous groups of people in different areas , many languages were created and continue to change up to today. We have come a long way from hunting and gathering and yet communication still remains the bedrock of all human relationships as a necessity for survival.
Social interaction is essential for our emotional and mental wellbeing. Any interaction between two or more human beings takes the form of verbal(30-40%) and 60-70% Non-verbal communication. Verbal communication is by means of a spoken language while non-verbal is portrayed by facial expressions, gestures and postures, tone of voice and tactile stimulation such as touch and body movements. We use our five senses during the interaction:
83% sight, 11% hearing, 3% smell, 2% touch and 1% taste. Children learn early how to communicate by mere observation of the adults around them. Psychological research in social and behavioural sciences has revealed that such non-verbal communication also conveys cultural values as well.
The English naturalist and biologist, Charles Darwin (1809-1882),
studied the non-verbal communication as early as 1872. He observed that human beings could use facial expressions to express their emotions and attitudes about others.
One quote always reminds me that of all the things I wear, my smile is the most important.
While I was researching and writing the last post entitled: Embracing my Age,
I read extensively about facial expressions. The common ones well known to all of us are the smile and the tears. Each facial expression communicates the emotion deep down. The movement in the mouth determines the intensity of the smile while the sparkle in the eyes conveys genuine happiness. Many of us bare our teeth in a rage.
The American anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell (1918-1994) who pioneered the study of facial expression, gestures, posture, gait and visible arm and body movements in the late 50s, collectively called them kinesics- the human body language. He estimated that humans could make and recognize around 250,000 cultural-related facial expressions conveying emotions and attitudes. While my children were growing up, they could tell what I required of them by simply interpreting my facial expression. In their cheekiness, they would say that I could ‘beat’ them with my eyes.
Fast Forward, the first SMS was sent from a computer to a phone in UK in December 1992. Since then, text messaging has become the order of the day in this Digital era. They have changed the way the world communicates in the smartphone era.
In the late 1990s, a Japanese telecommunications company created emojis-communicating in pictorial faces and symbols- info graphic. The Western world adopted this form of communication from 2010. Emoji was added as a real word in the Oxford Dictionaries in August 2013.
They have become a permanent fixture in today’s Digital communication. When I first came across it, it reminded me of Hieroglyphics: the formal writing of pictures and symbols in Ancient Egypt.
One linguistic professor, Professor Herring called emojis a sort of pictorial pidgin language- the primitive tongue that emerges out of necessity between two population with no common language that lacks plural markers and functions exclusively in the present tense.
It is a rudimentary language. Emojis are not universal ; different messages can be conveyed by the same image depending on the culture. Some messages have been lost in the translation only to be clarified by text words.
Over time, all languages develop, more words are added and a few may be left out. Emoji as a Digital language will continue to evolve.
We all have our languages of communication, the human body language and now we have added a Digital language that we use online, I would not be surprised if we borrowed the birds’ song and calls to enhance our digital communication. Anything is possible in this technology -driven age.
Have you ever tried to text a short paragraph without using words, using emoji only? Did the receiver understand your message easily?