Who Needs Words Anymore?

Posted on Categories Legal Writing, Public

emoji press releaseMy worst fear has been realized: we can now stop writing in words.

Last week, Chevy issued a press release written entirely in emoji (except for its hashtag line #ChevyGoesEmoji). Emoji are the little graphics that appear all over the digital world. You’ve probably gotten emails or text messages that include them: a thumbs up sign; a little yellow smiley or angry or sad face; a dog; etc. I’ve done a screen capture of a portion of that release that you can see above. According to one journalist, the press release was “utterly incomprehensible.”

The press release introduced the 2016 Chevy Cruze and seemed to be an attempt to appeal to millennials—the younger generation generally born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s. While the company released its English translation the following day, those in media attempted to decipher the emoji version. Robert Sorokanich, one of the “resident millennials” at Car and Driver attempted a translation. For one line that Chevy later said meant “Seating: Seats 5,” Sorokanich interpreted the following: “You have no idea who the last person was that sat in your airline seat. Bring hand sanitizer.”

Most likely, Chevy was attempting to be edgy to appeal to a younger audience. And truly the days of writing in all emoji are still far off, at least for professional communications (I hope!), but the trend worries me. If the younger generation communicates primarily in acronyms (LOL, MYOB) and emojis, when they get to law school, will they know how to write in proper English? Will they know the lingo of writing (nouns and verbs and clauses and conjunctions, etc.)? It reminds of cursive writing, something most young people no longer do. Maybe they learned it and can do it when called upon (even for something other than their signatures), but day-to-day, they’re either texting, typing, or printing, and in the meantime those other skills are slowly fading.

Or maybe I’m just getting old and persnickety. I wonder what the emoji are for that?

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