New York's cover story this week proclaims, "Smile, You're Speaking Emoji." But are you? Do you understand the difference between the tongue-out emoji and the winking tongue-out emoji? Today's children communicate almost exclusively in these little smileys, and soon the weak emoji-illiterates in our society will be left behind.
Dr. Owen Churches of Flinders University in Australia has learned that we are now reacting to emoticons in the same way that we would to a human face. In a study published in the Social Neuroscience Journal, it was found that when presented with images of humans, random strings of characters, and emoticons, participants' occipitotemporal cortex had the same response with both human faces and emoticons. This brain development has only taken 32 years to occur, as the first documented use of emoticon was in 1982 by Professor Scott Fahlman, pictured above.