Is that an Emoticon, an Emoji or a GIF?

As you have probably seen, communication these days is full of pictures to convey emotions or thoughts. Do you know the difference between the types?

Scott Fahlman is credited with starting the use of the “emotional icon” or “emoticon” in 1982.  He started using


to indicate jokes from serious statements. According to an article in New Republic, you may even be able differentiate  people’s outlook based upon those who include the “-” as a nose. Those who use the  “-”  are more conventional and tend to spell things out while those with out the “-” have a younger interests or concerns.

Then there is the emoji, which was developed by a Japanese company.  Emoji is a contraction of the two words “e” and “moji”. It translates to be pictograph in English.


Emojis  come in lots of different symbols to express many different thoughts. People tend to use many at at time.  In fact, it is felt that they can be overused on social media. It is recommended that you stick to no more than 5 emoticons per image on Instagram.

An emoticon is made with symbols from your keyboard while emojis are pictures available through the application or software that your are using. Emojis can be different between providers – they are not universal. Also, your software may change your emoticons to emojis without you having to do anything. For example Word Press changed my emoticon above to an emoji automatically. I had to go in and change the code to leave it as an emoticon.

But what about GIF? GIF (pronounced like Jif peanut butter*) is a Graphics Interchange Format.  This is a very low resolution format that is fine for computer use but is not desirable for printing. While you can insert GIFs into your Twitter, Facebook posts, Pinterest posts, Tumbler, Instagram reddit posts,  emails, and texts.

Polar bear HI

I am a big GIF fan. My biggest use? I have downloaded several from GIPHY  and use them when I tweet a “thank you for following me” on Twitter. For Twitter, you can save the images in a download file and then just load from your download file. This technique does not work for all social media sites. To use a GIF on Facebook, you need to click on the facebook icon on the page of the GIF that you want to use. You can do that with Twitter also but I find it easier to look at my download file and use those randomly. I also think it is faster. When I use them on Twitter, they make the size of the picture larger and since it is moving, it will garner more attention.

There is your quick and easy lesson on the differences between emoticon, emoji, and GIF. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.  I will help you as much as I can.

Thanks for reading!

*According to Wikipedia, the Compuserve employees would often say “Choosy developers choose GIF” to mimic the peanut butter saying.


About Carol Early Cooney

I love to read. I love to share my thoughts on books and hope to hear what you think also. Looking to see what books I read beyond those I write about? Check out my Goodreads!
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