Did you know good native support for emojis didn’t come to Apple’s iOS until 2011? And it didn’t emerge for Androids users until 2013! It’s kind of hard to believe something that is now so ingrained into our digital lives is so young. Even Pinterest is older than that.
We use emojis as a language, as a way to communicate an emotion without words. Why stress about the right words to tell someone you have a crush on them when you can just send a winky kissy face instead? (That’s how people flirt, right? Asking for a friend.)
More than just expressing emotions, they also allow us to express creativity in how we communicate. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find TV show recaps, song lyrics, screenplays and more written entirely in emojis.
In all of these instances, emojis are being used to express our current state of culture. Sharing your feelings using pictographs is a characteristic of the digital age as much as passing notes was signature to the twentieth century and putting messages in a bottle was before that.
And slowly but surely, emojis are adapting to the changing nature of our culture. Staying relevant is essential to survival in the digital age, and the Unicode Consortium (think of them as the emoji overlords) recognizes that.
You may have heard that a new batch of emojis that includes a taco and unicorn are coming to a device near you soon. These new additions came about because the people at Unicode look at what is being talked about on the Internet and take popular topics and requests into consideration. Sure, it takes about two years for any final decision and execution to happen, but they’re listening and growing their library based on what the Internet is interested in.
When considering a new emoji, Unicode takes into consideration things like Change.org petitions, Facebook campaigns and BuzzFeed lists. Anyone with an Internet connection can be the impetus behind the creation of a new emoji and can reach billions of people as a result.
And isn’t that just such a great representation of the Internet? Any average Joe can contribute to the digital language used by billions of people across the world — a language that is universally understood across cultures (for the most part).
That’s pretty wild. Or perhaps Astonished Face-Clapping Hands-Fireworks.