Six billion every day.

No, not McDonald’s burgers, but emojis sent and received via the world’s two-plus billion smartphones.

Advocates (and there are many, with tops being ad agencies) claim these little pictures emulate our feelings and the expressions and gestures we use talking with others in face-to-face conversations.

Still others who have plumbed the psychology of these stimulations du jour insist they’re changing our speech patterns and expressing our authentic selves – our interests, our reactions, even innuendoes. 

We don’t buy it.

Though this trend started in the ‘90s and gained steam of late, thanks to marketers like Coke and Dove, Bud Light and Starbucks (among others), it’s simply another way for us not to talk – and, by extension, not to understand each other. 

Sure, it promotes our brain’s desire for visual communications.  And it’s definitely a convenient shorthand to capture one, maybe two emotions.  But even those frequent users insist that there are clear rules for campaigning with these Japanese little pictures:

  1. Know your audience’s emoji usage habits, like age, location, and gender
  2. Identify the most common emojis and
  3. Know how the audience speaks.

Hmm.  So if we truly studied our target audience’s speaking patterns, as number three recommends, wouldn’t it be easier to just, er, talk with them?


These days, there’s lots of press about the use (or mis-use) of words.  Journalists and writers complain.  Business people urge all to be conversational and precise.  Teachers, of course, have a field day.

Every day, slang takes over our talk and thinking.  Just think of a few:  Deep dive, end user, leverage, low-hanging fruit, synergy.  “It’s the deck that touches base with our aspirations, and further expands our bandwidth.”

Yeah, we could go on and on.

But we’ll spare you.   Psychologists galore have examined corporate and techno speak, concluding that it’s a:

  • ·       Shorthand to communicate more quick and efficiently
  • ·       Way of indicating you’re a member of a certain club or
  • ·       Need to sound important.

Even better, some good Ph.D. doctors at NYU analyzed the use of abstract language, revealing that its use leads listeners to believe the speaker is lying – more often than if concrete words were spoken.

Bottom line, jargon is muddy and meaningless.  It creates a language barrier in cultures that, quite frankly, don’t need any more.

Complaining, though, won’t get us anywhere. 

Our solution?  Let’s get well-known public figures and CEOs to start talking and writing with clarity; after all, many of us act as their ghostwriters.  Start a campaign with role models everyone respects – perhaps a Jimmy Carter or Tim Cook or (you fill in the blank).  Headline it with quotes from Richard Branson (among others):   “It is far better to use a simple term and commonplace words that everyone will understand, rather than showing off and annoying your audience.”

Hey, we can dream, can’t we?


Warning:  Our hackles have been raised.

Those hairs on our neck shifted upwards when we read of not-so-secret one-on-one meetings between money managers, hedge funds, and the like and public company CEOs.

Not that there’s anything wrong or illegal with the practice.  [After all, the SEC calls it “corporate access” and, though there’s some monitoring, it doesn’t breach the Regulation Fair Disclosure rule of 2000.]

Yet survey after survey of these fairly regular occasions – about 99 on average each year for public businesses, says Ipreo – demonstrates that this kind of face time allows analysts and investors to make better trading decisions and more accurate earnings forecasts.

So be it.  It’s obvious these kinds of conversations help persuade the monied occupations that a company’s stock is a worthwhile investment. 

At the same time, it allows other, external observers to gauge the tone and confidence level and body language of the CEO (or CFO).

So what we object to is not the need to present to the investment community, face to face.  No, what causes our discomfort is the not-so-equal access of the C-suite to his/her employees, the rank and file who need to understand the strategies, the changes, and, yes, the financials. 

Okay, we get it:  Executive time is precious.  But don’t employees relish and deserve regular face-to-face communications in small groups with key senior leaders?