Until recently, I was a firm believer in emoji traditional smiley. “It `s cute!” I used to think, as I happily used it to indicate my gentle amusement at everything from puns to fun weekend plans.
But apparently that was a mistake, and just when I thought I was expressing heartfelt happiness, I was actually sending out an emoji that is “colossally insulting in every way imaginable,” according to The Guardian.
It seems the rest of the world agrees, and the “slightly smiling face”, to use its full name, doesn’t figure in the top 10 most used emojis in 2021. In fact, according to data from the Unicode Consortium, the face slightly smiling is not even in the top 20. It’s at number 28, sandwiched between “palms” and “red face”.
Instead of embracing the subtle joys of the slightly smiling face, the world continued their love affair with “a face with tears of joy,” a rough and blunt instrument of an emoji that leaves no room for subtlety or ambiguity. It is said to have been at the top since at least 2017, and by 2021 it accounted for more than 5 percent of emojis sent online. Ridiculous.
Jokes aside, it’s interesting to see from these data how broadly consistent the emoji we’ve used has been, even though the world has been turned upside down by the pandemic.
On its blog, the Unicode Consortium points out that the top 10 emoji only had one change between the two years, and even then, it was to swap two very similar emoji (“two hearts” with “smiling face with 3 hearts”).
That’s not to say there haven’t been major changes. The birthday cake’s emoji soared from 113 to 25, while the balloon gently floated from 139 to 48. My personal favorite, the pleading face, also broke the top 20, climbing from 97 to 14.
But surprisingly, real pandemic-related emoji haven didn’t see much change, as the microbe emoji barely made the top 500 (there are 3,663 emojis in total, in case you’re wondering).
In addition to this data type being simply interesting, it is useful for the Unicode Consortium to understand which emojis are most popular in order to decide which characters to add next.
The way emojis are created is a surprisingly interesting process and you can read about it in this article by my colleague Jay Peters (who submitted proposals for the yawning face and the waffle emoji).
Still, at least there is hope for us smiling fans. The emoji had a dramatic increase in popularity between 2019 and 2021, when it was previously at the 50th mark. At this rate, we can still reach the top 10 [emoji com os dedos cruzados].
Matter translated from The Verge.
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