The Newspeak of the Digital Age

You probably know that I wrote about Emoji before, and while that post was mostly a rant discussing the mere ridicule of Emoji, my critiques of the actual effects of Emoji have not diminished and I would like to continue the discussion.

My prediction said that Emoji narrow our range of thought by restricting expressions to simple symbols that cannot yield much variety when combined. And as we continue the practice of using them in daily conversation there is a loss of deeper language.

In 1984, the classic dystopian novel, that is exactly the case. The Party (the ruling class of society) administers a new language called Newspeak, which is set to replace Oldspeak (Newspeak for English). The goal of Newspeak: to minimise expression of thought by restricting the range of words and sentences one can make use of. Why do that? To keep the Party in power of course!

For example in Newspeak there are no antonyms such as good and bad, but rather good and ungood. The goal of the language is to minimise vocabulary as such to make an uprising against the Party impossible.

In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, which its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meaning rubbed out and forgotten. […] Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller.

Is that the case for us as well? Just recently Facebook introduced “reactions”, which allow you to respond to a post by choice of six icons. Of course comments are still allowed, but isn’t this the exact path of communication that George Orwell tried to warn us from? Some Emoji are actually banned in some countries, for example Emoji that depict homosexual couples, take Indonesia as example. It is an actual political problem nowadays. Emoji are more easier to control than normal language.


Especially because the ones who control Emoji are the big corporations such as Microsoft and Apple, and you cannot trust these corporations. Symbolically, they resemble the Party, they control everything, Big Brother is watching you.

I don’t want to appear paranoid here but rather simply raise conscious of these things that nowadays appear so integrated into our daily lives.