First of all, let me put forward my intention behind this post. I do not want to accuse WhatsApp makers for racism. Neither I have any intention to start a debate. I just came across a feature and which actually stuck in my mind for long. This only motivated me to put forward this post. Any counter argument with well explanation is always welcome from readers.
I must admit that I am not very comfortable using emoticons in any messaging platform. Although, they are pretty much self explanatory, I fumble with their proper usage. My idea of any chat service is to communicate with words, where the writing style and words culminate the tone of the message. Emotions are best conveyed with proper usage of words, I believe. For this reason only, history tab of my used emoticons always hold emoticons like general smile (to agree or put an end to a topic), thumbs up (to imitate Facebook like) and few others.
Now, coming back to the point. I encountered sometimes back that, some of the emoticons involving hand gestures do have an option to set the skin colour. The very first time, you click on any of these emoticons, WhatsApp allows you to chose from a set of emoticons of same shape style. The only distinctive feature for those options is the skin colour. Once you select any option, WhatsApp sets that skin colour as your personal one and from next time onwards, you can send that emoticon with that skin colour.
All the smileys are pretty much out of this game. We have face emoticons with different colours. I understand this embellishes the emotion by adding colour to a face. We are pale when we blush, red when angry and so on. However, hand gestures based on skin colour does not serve any purpose other than only choosing a colour and set as your preferred colour.
Now, why do I call it racism?
I understand, this is not to denounce any skin colour in particular. However, choosing a skin colour mostly leads us choosing the colour which is the closest of our own colour. Choosing a colour that closely resembles our own colour is the idea that disturbs me. If we choose a skin colour of our own over other, a simple form of racism comes to life. Preference on anything based on skin colour appears to be a racist idea to me.
If we do not need the skin colour to express emotions, we can very well disable this choice. Moreover, we can change this colour to an absurd choice like green. Hope green lantern would not mind. 🙂