Images OR Words?


A picture is worth a thousand words” – Napoleon Bonaparte

 A very apt and concurrent thought, that struck the great French Emperor in the early nineteenth century, can easily be understood in the light of the communication practices employed today in the twenty first century. When was the last time that you read plain text without feeling that it lacked something?

Social Networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, Tumblr and Flickr and the like have made it big into the market because of their pictorial appeal amongst people. This post is not place one form of media over the other, but instead to dig deeper into the trend of socially accepting images, pictures, colored font, animated messages, graphical representations of information over plain and descriptive narratives. Everyone’s busy lives only allow them to dedicate a certain fraction of their time to social media, in which they aspire to learn as much as they can within minutes…who then, would prefer reading a 500 word essay on the austere conditions of certain pockets in Africa over a poignant image of the same which speaks volumes for itself? – A brilliant point driven home by Matt Cunningham in his blog. He also strongly believes,

“It is the images that make reality real. Images leave very little room for interpretation. We see it, and it happened. Instantly, the situation that surrounds us becomes believable.”

 Facebook keeps changing every week! With more emphasis on pictures, through the cover page, profile picture, FB graph search, enhanced space dedicated to photo album grids, etc, it appears more cheerful and colorful to the human eye. These features attract attention to pictorial and graphic details. Every action of a Facebook user is represented through his/her icon rather than the name. Instagram, Pintrest, Tumblr and Flickr  have cashed in heavily on this recent change in preference.

Images speak for themselves with the cooperation of the viewer’s psychology. They look how the viewer wants to see them and hence transgress the boundaries of lexical communication. This is perhaps the underlying secret of social media being global and glocal at the same time. Imagery and colors have no language. They appear, as they are perceived. They can either be endlessly thought provoking or just a pedestrian and insignificant image…determined by individual discretion. To illustrate my point, here are some similarities and differences between images and plain text:


On a similar note, some images in social media are universal, such as the one below.


In conclusion, it would not be wrong to say that images have stepped up the trend of electronic communication in today’s date. Their ability to speak volumes and convey multiple messages is effectively facilitated by various social media platforms. Like every coin has two sides, images sans text on social media have their disadvantages which can be misused by a miscreant mind, but that is an whole another chapter in itself