Increased use of emoticon stamps correlates to higher rates of recluse and suicide

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“Hey. Stop wandering into the garden and come back!” Although a seemingly simple comment by the teacher to a daydreaming student in the class, it elicited a shocked and confused expression. Apparently, children in Japan nowadays tend to understand words too literally and seem to have lost the ability to understand metaphors and other related ideas involving complex thinking. Perhaps, the reason for this could be the popular Japanese messaging application LINE that began permeating society when smartphones became ubiquitous. On LINE, if one enters “happy” or “sad” in the text box, several related emoticon stickers, or stamps as they are more commonly referred to in Japan, would automatically appear accordingly. However, as there are no stamps to express complicated, layered emotions such as “worthlessness”, when children frequently use stamps to communicate, their thoughts will become more and more simplified. Furthermore, now that the function of knowing when one’s communication partner has read the message have became common, youth people tend to respond without deliberation to avoid troubles that arise due to an ignored text that had already been marked as “read”. This results in rough and simple communication as nuanced and subtle messages are sacrificed in lieu of broader expressions such as “it’s totally like, so-and-so”. Yet, human beings are extremely complex creatures and there is a need for us to be able to describe each other’s subtle feelings or emotions well in order to build good long-term relationships. Despite that, we see that many youths suffer from having a simplified train of thought when they use crude expressions such as “something like” or “you know”, which directly results in a lack of communication skills. We could go so far as to say that this problem is causing an increasing number of reclused lonely, suicidal, and socially awkward people. Hence, LINE messages (and also messages across other similar applications) ought to be sent moderately, and it is crucial to keep in mind that face-to-face communication still beats a message or even talking on the phone.
Adapted from the original article in Japanese by Housecom. Read the original here.

Also published on Medium.