We humans aren’t always clear in expressing our feelings, especially in writing. Facebook would like to make it easier, and it’s teaming with a research psychologist, a Pixar artist, and the work of Charles Darwin to make it happen. This Buzzfeed report from Feb 2013 should make you lift an eyebrow.
1. Sharrock’s article breaks down the facial elements that display emotion. In addition to mouth shape, what other features need to be considered? Compile a list of what the article includes. Are there any other features the article doesn’t mention that you think should be included as well? If so, which ones?
2. According to Pixar artist Matt Jones, the key to depicting emotion is the eyebrows. Try it in front of the mirror. Observe only your eyebrows as you show the many emotions mentioned in the article. Which ones are easiest to portray and interpret? Which ones are more ambiguous? What made them easy or hard? Does anything surprise you? Explain.
3. Which do you find more emotionally expressive—the photos from Darwin’s book or Jones’ sketches? Why? For your response, consider the differences between photography and simple line drawings as communicative media.
4. One issue that Sharrock’s article doesn’t address is whether ordinary Facebook users have expressed a want or need for a more detailed set of emoticons. What do you think? Would you like better emoticons for Facebook or other typed media (text messages, chat, etc.)? If there were a larger set of emoticons, would you be likely to use them? Why or why not? Write an essay in which you address these questions, using your own digital social life to support your ideas. Think about how you express your intended meaning and emotions online now, and how that might change if/when you have a wider set of emoticons at your disposal.