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Is a Picture Really Worth a Thousand Words?

Recently, a friend sent me a text message requesting some information. I replied with the information and I received an emoji reply, which was a smiley face with big eyes and shiny white teeth. I assumed this was my friend’s way of saying, “Thank you for taking the time to reply to me. I am very pleased with the information you sent to me. It will be of great help to me.” At least I think that’s what my friend was trying to say, but I couldn’t be sure.

Traditionally, people wrote books and letters using words to convey their thoughts. Using these two means of communication, the writer had a lot of time to carefully choose his or her words and review the sentences in order to convey the right emotion and achieve the right tone.

As the twenty-first century has dawned upon us, many people now supplement their communication with emoticons (a typographic display of a facial representation) and emojis (actual pictures of everything from a smiley face to a whimsical ghost.)

Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy receiving a message interspersed with an emoticon or an emoji or two. For some people, writing a paragraph that clearly describes their thoughts is more difficult than simply drawing pictures. However, I wonder if we might be reverting to our earlier days of living in caves. You have no doubt seen photographs which depict drawings that early cave dwellers used to tell a story of a significant event. However, how much more might we have learned from these early spelunkers if they had communicated their thoughts in writing? Perhaps we would understand the underlying motive for their actions, their dreams for the future and how they faced and overcame daily adversity.

Yes, a picture may be worth a thousand words. However, I doubt that pictures will ever replace the written word when it comes to communicating matters of the heart.

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