Smartphones and Pictograms: A Regression to the Primitive

Given the size of smartphones, one is reduced to using one or two digits to create a message (compared to the ability to use all ten digits when using a laptop/keyboard). That probably explains the increase in the use of pictograms: touching a happy face from a menu of emoticons is easier than inputting the ten-character (including spaces) ‘I am happy’.

Also, given the size of smartphones, pictograms are more efficient: at the font required to be legible, ‘I am happy’ would take up more space.

Thing is, the use of pictograms is a regression to a primitive mode of communication. Pictograms are less expressive—capable of less complexity—than words and sentences. Does anyone even know the definition of a sentence anymore? It’s the expression of a complete thought. As opposed to an emotion (or a simple assertion—’yes’ ‘no’) such as can be conveyed by a pictogram.

Such regression is also evident in the forementioned use of two digits (or even one) rather than ten for input.

Which begs the question: are we regressing and therefore using pictograms and two digits or are we using pictograms and two digits and therefore regressing?


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