Bitmoji is the texting app that creates those sometimes-accurate sometimes-ridiculous 2-D iPhone renderings of us. Bitmoji, which advertises itself as “your expressive cartoon avatar”, has taken off for its comical likeness to us and vast, fitting selection of expressions. But a more fundamental reason for Bitmoji’s success may be this: a face tells a million words.
Facial expressions are the universal language of emotion. Studies have shown that facial expressions are, indeed, a reliable indicator of certain emotional states (Tomkins & McCarter, 1964). And humans are, even subconsciously, highly attuned to others’ expressions, even those of strangers. Research shows that people can detect a “microexpression” in 1/30th of a second.
Considering how long it often takes to decipher a single text or email, the language of emotion is quicker than even the fastest internet connection.
With two-thirds of American jobs conducted nearly exclusively through a computer screen, we risk abandoning a key ingredient of successful and fulfilling business partnerships: authentic human connection. Of course, bitmojis aren’t all that authentic; they’re a mockup (and a mockery) of us. But they’re the closest thing we have to expressing ourselves in a real, readable way to the people across the Internet. For the speed of connection alone, it’s worth a try.