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'Stickers' and rage faces.

I’ve been quite surprised at the rise of stickers. Every phone-based social network seem to be rolling them out. WeChat, Kik and even Path.

My first reaction to this is: Really? It’s not that I think stickers can help in communication, it’s just that it feels like we can, and should be able to convey what they imply through more innovative means.

I understand why they work. If you’ve been on 9Gag or Reddit, you’ll know a host of ragefaces. They sum up responses and feelings really well. Their meaning has also been established as a meme, and you can now use them without even using the picture. Here’s how I’ve seen people use it. They simply ‘reference’ the meme.

close_enough.jpg

or

y_u_no.jpg

or

foreveralone.jpg

You know exactly how they look, you know exactly what message it conveys, and it works. And it often explains feelings/messages better than any text would.

On a phone, typing out long pieces of text is still cumbersome, and probably will be for the foreseeable future. Sometimes, a picture just sums up what you want to convey: It’s quicker and it conveys visual meaning.

For ages I’ve used the “:P” smiley to convey my light-hearted tone in texts. I’ve tried to unlearn it and rather just meet the people in person, and have a chat that way. Body language is still king in communication.

Stickers fit this ‘gap’ in mobile communication. It is emoticons on steroids. And of course, the social networks love it, because they can monetize some part of the communication.

But. Although it provides more tools to convey meaning, it still feels like a contrived manner in which to communicate. It feels like a local optimization to a problem, while there exists a higher peak.

And I think an app like SnapChat is going in the right direction. What better way to communicate than to just show someone how you feel? It doesn’t however cover all the use cases. You don’t ALWAYS want to communicate with pictures.

And this is where referencing rage faces comes in. I think there’s a clue here somewhere. Something like trying to effortlessly increase a text’s capability with meaning by imbuing it with visual connotations.

Thinking off the cuff here. What about if you say: “I’m sad”. Swipe right, and it shows you photos of sad faces (yours, or other (zeitgeist-ish)). Or if you say: “It’s sunny today.” Swipe right, and you have photos of sunny weather. Or if you say: “I can’t believe you did this!” Swipe right and show pictures of despondent people.

What are your thoughts on stickers? Can we make something better?