July 17th is World Emoji Day. And according to an expert in the fun little emoticons, there’s a lot to celebrate, as five billion messages featuring at least one are used daily — via Facebook alone.
“In 2017, Facebook released a study that revealed that every single day across their messaging platform, five billion messages featuring at least one emoji were sent,” Ken Broni, the world’s first emoji translator and researcher, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “And when you take into consideration WhatsApp, Instagram, Telegram, billions upon billions upon billions of emojis being sent each and every day across the entire world.”
Broni, who works for Guildhawk, a global language services agency, shared some other fun facts about emojis in honor of the day — including how some are often misused. That includes the peach, he says, citing another study, which only seven percent of people use in the way it was intended.
“Only seven percent of tweets using the peach emoji actually represented a peach. It actually was being used to represent the human backside, shall we say,” he noted. Cheeky!
Also, Broni said, “I have seen an eggplant [emoji] used as an actual eggplant, and the recipient misinterprets the alternate meaning. That could lead to some very awkward interactions.”
These emoticon facts don’t get much play the rest of the year, Broni explained, noting, “People are usually interested in emoji’s from a technical or business standpoint, but this is the time the media’s interest ramps up.”
Like with most forms of communication, brand new emojis can present challenges. “We’re seeing a lot of different design convergence in recent years, and we’ve had a lot of emoji fragmentation in the past,” said Broni. “That’s when you send one design to a friend of yours, and if they have a different phone it can look very, very different.” (Queue: The battle between your iPhone and your friend’s Samsung.)
They also present cultural discrepancies across the globe. “The hand gesture emojis,” for example, said Broni, “will mean different things in different cultures.”
As any emoji user understands, they are sometimes the best representation of a certain feeling, and luckily, 20 more were just released by Apple. And, as of March 2019, there are over 3,000 emoji within the Unicode Standard. Still, he assured, text communication — with words — is here to stay.
“No one can definitively say right now that emoji are negatively impacting our literacy rights,” he said. “It’s not likely given that ‘text-speak’ didn’t destroy our literacy levels.”
When asked about an emoji Broni feels is still missing, he had a sweet answer: “It’s a really philosophical question as silly as that sounds. On a personal note, I’d love a better representation of hugging.”
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