A return to hieroglyphics

July 7, 2014, 11:00 AM UTC

Influential bloggers say we’re in a “post-text world.” Since I do everything influential bloggers tell me to do—they’re the Oprah of the Internet—I now litter my correspondence to friends, to colleagues, and to my state senator with images. These include selfies, dronies (drone-enabled selfies), and most important, emoji. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a tiny emoji pictogram, sent with my iPhone, has to be worth at least 50 or 60.

Emoji started in Japan as a way to add context to text correspondence. Thanks to American teens, who influence influential bloggers, the emoji characters have blossomed into a cultural phenomenon. There are emoji art exhibits, emoji poetry books, emoji social networks, and, thanks to Katy Perry, emoji music videos. You can buy a pair of designer slippers decorated with emoji characters for $340. A crowdsourced project with Kickstarter funding translated Melville’s classic novel into the new hieroglyphics under the title Emoji Dick.

Trust that there’s a business angle to this nonsense. A new class of emoji is set to be released this month by the mysterious consortium that dreams them up, and among them are symbols clearly intended for business correspondence. That includes a selection of pens, several telephones, five envelopes, two floppy disks, and a businessman who is, for some reason, levitating.

These tools have the potential, clearly, to alter business correspondence forever. Consider, say, the jobs report:

Which obviously means, in May, non-farm payroll employment increased in 36 states and the District of Columbia, and decreased in 14 states. Obviously.

When BNP Paribas announces its $9 billion settlement, it will say:

When GM announces its 28th recall, it will say:

Why is this new visual vocabulary for business forthcoming? Why do the emoji overlords think we need seven different notebooks and five different mailboxes when the catalogue still lacks some of the most basic necessities to human conversation, like, say, Kimye or a macaroon? (Macaroons are the new cupcake, say influential bloggers.)

One reason may be that text-based business correspondence has become a minefield. Try thanking someone over email without using an exclamation point. Go on, try it. Where “Thanks!” translates to, “I genuinely, warmly appreciate your contribution, “Thanks.” with a hard-stop period looks so icy the recipient has to wonder if it’s sarcastic. Don’t be a heartless monster; add a smiley-face wink. Another typographical tip: Try out sorrrrryyyyyy and thaaaanks—the more y’s, the sorrier you are, the more a’s, the more thankful you are. Unless you’re yanking somebody’s chain. Emoji can clear that up.

These shortcomings of plain language may explain why, if a new study from the University of Cambridge computer laboratory is to be believed, people who use emoticons in their personal and professional lives are more popular and influential than those who don’t. To lack influence in today’s business environment is to be irrelevant, and to be irrelevant is the ultimate modern horror.

Emoji have always had a business side, despite their tilt toward Japanese foods and cartoon cats. Before the latest upgrade, the emoji catalogue included pushpins, file folders, and calendars, plus charts, graphs, currencies, and paper clips. There’s even a suit and a briefcase, which I recommend you pair with the giant bag of money and a martini to convey success:

But now emoji will be even more businesslike, levitating executive and all. With this wealth of important resources at our disposal, we modern, influential people of relevance will have no choice but to make like teens and sext. Er, post-text. Er, emote. We most emojify.

This story is from the July 21, 2014 issue of  Fortune.

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