Of all of civilization's advances, the development of written language is a crucial one. (If it wasn't important, we wouldn't have spent so much time in grade school learning about the Sumerians and cuneiform or what a game-changing discovery the Rosetta Stone was, right?)
Yet recently I've noticed that much of our communication is reverting to what seems like hieroglyphics — only the modern term for these word pictures is emojis. In texts, on Twitter and especially on Instagram, people are using pictures instead of words to communicate. Until now, I've sat in slight judgment of those who choose to use a picture of clapping hands instead of saying "congratulations," but today, I'm judging myself. I added the new Starbucks Keyboard app to my phone so I can send my friends an emoji of a unicorn drinking a Frappuccino, a cake pop or simply a cup of coffee.
Words will now be extraneous when I want to ask a friend to get coffee. All I'll need to do is send a text or Facebook message with this emoji:
Or this one:
(Unfortunately, these emojis don't flow seamlessly into the text. They're photos that have to be manually pasted into the text box even though they're in the keyboard function.)
I have mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, it seems like a harmless, fun way to tell my best friend it's been too long since we've had coffee together. On the other hand, I wonder if I'm contributing to this regression to hieroglyphics, as if somehow this single choice will lead directly to the need, thousands of years from now, for a new version of the Rosetta Stone, one that deciphers the confusing lines and squiggles that today we understand as, "Want to meet up for coffee?"