This happened not that long ago, maybe a few years back. I was texting with an old friend of mine from school, trying to figure out when and where to meet for a reunion. After finalizing the details, setting the date and time I received the following message from him: “I am so excited to see you. Insert here the little yellow smiley guy.”
For a moment I wasn’t entirely sure what my friend was hinting at, but it soon clicked. I just replied with a smiley emoji, typing the following question: “You mean this guy?” A confirmation ensued: “Yeah. Insert the same guy here again.”
It has turned out that my friend, much to my disbelief, still used an old Nokia phone that had no emojis in its keyboard. As I said, it was an old friend from school – so I decided to cut him some slack for not being up to date with new trends. In any event, a few months later he finally got around to getting a smartphone and his 14-year-old son made sure to teach him how to insert “tiny yellow guys” in the text and what each of these different expressions meant. This was done primarily for the purposes of limiting the situations in which the LOL emoji would be confused with the crying one.
This entire emoji episode came into mind when I recently read in the news that the city authorities in Ostend, Belgium have put three wood poles at the beach with three different emoji signs on top: a smiley face, a heart emoji and the poop emoji. The poles were dubbed as “zeemoji” signs, which in translation to English would be a “seamoji”. This was undertaken as a part of a bigger project by the local authorities to improve the user experience by revamping the public beach, making it trendier and cooler. The same project mapped out a beach zones where smoking was forbidden as well as an area where the use of plastic was banned. One of the main goals behind the emoji poles was to provide meeting spots for visitors coming to the beach and allow for people to send messages like: “hey, let’s meet at 3pm right in front of that… heart emoji sign?”
But wait, that is not all. Here is another emoji-themed piece of news. This one is from February 2019 and hails all the way from the other side of the world, more precisely, Queensland, Australia. Local authorities have enabled car owners to insert an emoji in their license plates. The options include five “yellow” emojis: laughing out loud, a winking face emoji, the cool sunglasses, the heart eyes and the standard smiley face. The typical registration plate form with a unique combination of numbers and letters is still present, alongside the option of adding one selected emoji to the mix. It should come as no surprise that the privilege of having an emoji on your car plates comes at an additional cost.
One needs not to be a visionary to foresee that the practice of including emojis will spread to other countries as well. Afterall, emojis and emoticons have become a universal global language that works simultaneously and in sync with regular letters and the language we use in written communication. Emojis complement our communication by streamlining and simplifying the way in which we communicate emotions. In a time where the majority of our everyday exchange is handled through a smartphone, emojis have become an essential tool we utilize frequently. This happens not only when people are miles away but sitting in the same room or even next to us, at the same table.
In any event, the language of emojis has a bright future ahead of it. The development of the language is under the auspices of a non-profit organization Unicode that ensures that each individual can contribute offering a new emoji symbol, vetting the submissions through a settled procedure for implementation and distribution.
One can feel at ease calling this whole thing a full-fledged movement, as the fans have already been gathering at events such as EmojiCon in Brooklyn that took place in July 2018. The new global language aficionados are even going the extra mile calling themselves the emojination.
When there is smoke, there is fire: if we already have a nation, why don’t we take a step further and establish a state? And then elections come and that’s how we’ll have a first emoji president who will start giving us very picturesque speeches. Well, let’s be honest – even if that happens he wouldn’t be the first emoji president. If we look around us, there are already quite a few of them and the numbers are going up each and every day.
Now insert the tiny yellow flushed face emoji.