Ah, texting. It gets us into trouble all too often, when no number of alphanumeric characters and not even the cleverest of emoji combinations can convey a precise degree of remorse or an appropriate level of excitement.
Meet Reacticons, an application that comes to your rescue when words won't do, filling in the blanks with a telling movie still, a cute animal portrait or a do-it-yourself insta-meme.
"I think that meme culture has pushed our communication beyond just text and icons. A photo makes everything more relatable."
Houstonian George Cole tells CultureMap that he created the app as a way to placate neglected friends during an especially busy period at work. Though he didn't have the time or energy to spare for lengthy phone calls or tome-length texts, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
And after witnessing his growing database of cat photos, his friends wanted in on the fun, too.
The app, which Cole first developed for Android (free to download) and more recently released on iTunes (for 99 cents), draws from an ever-growing, Tumblr-based gallery of user-submitted images that can be filtered by reaction category, like IDK, WTF, OMG and LOL.
Users can copy and paste an image into a text message faster than they can type "Bitch, please." And with hundreds of thousands of cumulative downloads since it was first released last fall, it's clearly caught on.
"I think that meme culture has pushed our communication beyond just text and icons," Cole says. "A photo makes everything more relatable."