Emojis succeeded not because they were language, but precisely because they were not a language
Emoji didn’t succeed because they were a language, they succeeded because they're not a language. Rather than try to compete with words on their home turf, emoji added in a whole new system to represent a whole other layer of meaning. We already had a way of representing individual sounds, in the form of letters, and we've been developing the system for representing tone of voice using our existing punctuation and capitalization that we talked about in the previous chapter. So emoji and other pictorial elements are filling the third important pillar of communication: a way of representing our gestures and physical space.
Thinking of emoji as gestures helps put things into perspective if we're tempted to start thinking, "If words were good enough for Shakespeare, why aren't they good enough for us?" We can pause and realize that plain words weren't actually good enough for Shakespeare. A lot of what Shakespeare wrote was plays, designed not to be read on a page, but to be performed by people. How many of us have struggled through reading Shakespeare as a disembodied script in school, only to see him come to life in a well-acted production?
You are too complex to understand yourself. It takes careful observation, and education, and reflection, and communication with others, just ...
When I design online ads for American Apparel, I almost always look for an angle that will provoke. Outrage, self-righteousness, and titillation all work equally well. Naturally, the sexy ones are probably those you remember most, but the formula worked for all types of images. Photos of kids dressed up like adults, dogs wearing clothes, ad copy that didn’t make any sense—all high-valence, viral images. If I could generate a reaction, I could propel the ad from being something I had to pay for people to see (by buying ad inventory) to something people would gladly post on the front page of their highly trafficked websites.