World makers, social network makers, ask one question first: How can I do it? Zuckerberg solved that one in about three weeks. The other question, the ethical question, he came to later: Why? Why Facebook? Why this format? Why do it like that? Why not do it another way? The striking thing about the real Zuckerberg, in video and in print, is the relative banality of his ideas concerning the “Why” of Facebook. He uses the word “connect” as believers use the word “Jesus,” as if it were sacred in and of itself: “So the idea is really that, um, the site helps everyone connect with people and share information with the people they want to stay connected with….” Connection is the goal. The quality of that connection, the quality of the information that passes through it, the quality of the relationship that connection permits—none of this is important. That a lot of social networking software explicitly encourages people to make weak, superficial connections with each other (as Malcolm Gladwell has recently argued 1 ), and that this might not be an entirely positive thing, seem to never have occurred to him.
Small though they may be, emojis resonate with populist power: Over 300 million images are shared daily by Facebook users; 45 million are posted through Instagram (Rock). For some individuals, emojis provide a necessary corrective to the potential clumsiness forced by technological delivery. Japanese author Motoko Tamamuro explains that the Japanese "tend to imply things instead of explicitly expressing them, so reading the situation and sensing the mood are very important. We take extra care to consider other people's feelings when writing correspondence, and that's why emoji became so useful in email and text – to introduce more feeling into a brevitised form of communication" (qtd. in Marsden). Tamamuro's concerns are similar to those early English-language adopters of emoticons—wary of language's missteps and interested in closing as many gaps between intended and received communication.