Around five billion emojis are sent every day over Facebook Messenger, while 63% of Brits are more likely to open an email when the subject line uses an emoji to imply sarcasm. However you use them, emojis are a mainstay of our modern lexicon.
This month we helped brands commemorate World Emoji Day, an unofficial holiday started in 2014 to celebrate a global adoration for the pictorial dictionary – famous for its heart eyes, crying face and 💩 – otherwise known as ‘Mr Hankey’. And it didn’t stop there; Google used #WorldEmojiDay to bid farewell to its family of ‘blobs’ in a series of #BlobVoyage posts – so as to make way for its new set of Android emojis – while the Royal Opera House took to Twitter to tell stories using just, you guessed it, emojis.
Looking back, 2015 was hailed the year of the emoji as Oxford Dictionaries crowned the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ as its word of the year. For the first time since records began, an image was selected as it was felt the ‘word’ 😂 best “reflected the ethos, mood and preoccupations of 2015”.
Despite 92 per cent of all people online now using emojis – a third of these users do so daily – opinion is divided between those that believe emojis are destroying our ability to communicate, and those who maintain they are our modern vernacular.
In the digital age we’re adept at punching out short, sweet messages to one another . Whether by text, email or WhatsApp message, we’re masterful at holding lightning-fast conversations that in years gone by would have likely needed a phone call or even a letter. Of course the downside of written VS verbal communication has always been the absence of tone, empathy and silent social cues that can signify the difference between sarcasm or sincerity. The dawn of the emoji has unleashed a powerful new language of emotional context in these once flat, text-only conversations. Emojis facilitate a conversation in a way that’s almost as if you were having it IRL.
Dr Vyvyan Evans, author of The Emoji Code, identified that 60-70% of how we interact lies in non-verbal and visual actions. With 95 million photos uploaded to Instagram every day, social media users clearly welcome visual representation. Emojis can deliver a sense of humour, affection or even sadness when needed, providing another layer to our everyday communication.
Emojis certainly aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but that’s not to say a linguistic doomsday is upon us – language will always continue to evolve and flourish to reflect the habits and technological advances of humans. It’s exciting to see where it might lead next.