Apparently, as many as 41.5 billion messages and 6 billion emoticons are sent daily. It shouldn't really come as a surprise. For many years now, we have been using emoji and emoticons to tell our friends when we're happy, sad, dancing or "a heap of poo with eyes." An emoji not only expresses a feeling but also helps codify our conversation to such an extent that only close friends would understand the depth of the sent image. Yet, quite often, emoji are viewed as tools to be used by "youth"—generally people below the age of 30. Anyone older using them might be viewed as somehow immature. But how fair is this? If one is never too old to make friends, or learn something new, why should age have anything to do with the use of emoji to convey feelings?
Rather than being indicative of immaturity, emoji are aides to help us distill and succinctly express the complexities of feelings.
In a recent survey of 18-30 year olds, 72% said it is easier for them to express themselves with emoji rather than words. At the receiving end too, emoji make the right kind of impact. A recent study by Adelaide's Flinders University found that our brains react the same way when looking at an emoticon as they do when regarding a human face. Thus, emoji allow for an expressive, human way of communicating via text. Why should we not all freely use this tool of communication? People over the age of 30 have friends and want to convey feelings too, after all. Rather than being indicative of immaturity, emoji are aides to help us distill and succinctly express the complexities of feelings. Using emoji and being taken seriously should not be at odds with one another! Besides, not every conversation between friends over 30 is as serious as world peace or climate change!
The 2015 Emoji Report found that the biggest reasons consumers use emoji are to "help them more accurately express what they're thinking, and to make it easier for other people to understand them." And sometimes emojis are just about conveying a mood. But one needs to guard against being too "calculated" about it—something which older people may be prone to doing.
As Katie Roiphe writes on the subject of emoji use by over-30s:
"The larger issue with over-30 emoji use is that it's a little too enthusiastic and resourceful. The best thing to do is avoid the far-flung or specific emoji that might imply that you have spent actual time browsing for the perfect or relevant one, or that you have given it any thought at all. The effect of emojis should be almost random, consummately casual, dashed off."
So, whether you are 20 or 30 or 60, feel free to use emoji unashamedly to reveal your emotional state or just to set the tone for a conversation!