The Universal Language of Pictures and Picture Messaging (short blog)

One day whilst browsing YouTube, I caught a camera advert which I now can’t find (why do I never remember these things? It’s bad research) which described pictures as a ‘universal language’.

I’ve written and said plenty on how important pictures and videos are to social media, in helping people to communicate ideas and feelings in a way that is easier than text, but I’ve never considered it from the language barrier angle before.

(An old vlog from during my MSc dissertation where I discuss pictures in social media)

As the internet connects us from all over the world, it’s much easier to communicate visually than in words, and technology has developed in a way to allow this. Of course, many apps such as Instagram, Vine or snapchat usually involve captions and many memes rely on their captions rather than their actual picture, it’s very easy to understand someone’s thoughts or intentions from a picture. I’ve heard it said that 90% of language is facial expression and body language, and it’s true, so pictures can display that easily.


Pictures can describe much more than our thought/feelings, they can be complex abstract ideas, or they can be very simple and overall, they are instantly understandable and sharable/readable at the click of a button, regardless of what language you speak or how literate you are.


Random shots of my life, presented without words but still understandable, or at least interpretable I hope! Taken using Instagram, presented using


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