If you think about it, emojis have been around for millenniums now. What we know of emojis today were rock painting on archaeological sites in the ancient civilizations. Drawings or carvings were made to convey meanings, to tell a story, only to be found under heaps of gravel much later. It was a means of communication without having to use letters (letters were not invented back then, but you get the point).
Emojis are the same. It has come to be treated more than just drawings; an emoji conveys emotions, feelings, with just one tap of your finger. Instead of typing letters, thoughts can be conveyed with one simple emoji. But, emojis are so much more than that. They aren’t just millennial whims. They aren’t short-lived. Each emoji is crafted to suit the delicate needs of a broad range of users -adults, teenagers, old, straight, gays, transgender, white, black, Indians and even more.
Here’s everything you wanted to know about emojis
The history of the emoji
For the first time in Oxford’s history, the word of the Year was a pictograph, an emoji. In 2015, the emoji with “Face with tears of joy” was Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year.
Clearly, an emoji has enough influence to be regarded as a spoken word. It is a language of the digital world and rightly so.
Emojis began as a discovered ingenuity by Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita. He was the curator of almost 180 emojis back in 1999 for “i-mode” an early internet provider from DOCOMO, Japan’s prominent mobile carrier. The popularity of Kurita’s emojis soon spread its wings. Fast forward to 2010, Unicode Consortium standardized the symbols in digital interfaces and is responsible for the emojis across all interfaces and smartphones that we find today. The adaptation and unification of emojis across countries provided a solid exchange of information, with no language barrier.
Kurita’s emojis were meant to convey information without having to type out too many words. The first edition of emojis had several emoji to convey the weather (snow, sun, umbrella, etc.), traffic and technology and all phases of the moon. With Unicode’s involvement, the original version was increased to almost 650 emojis to be used across all digital platforms. The lexicon of emoji was changing, and Unicode had means and ideas to make the emojis more available to the masses. Their job was to help expand and express in terms of emoji which were becoming too hard to ignore.
Emojis were on the way of becoming legitimized as a language of its own.
Emojis became a staple for all
It was only after 2010 that emojis were being used around the globe and was popularized as Android, Apple too jumped into the market to device emojis of their own. The variety of emojis -like the broken heart emoji to innuendo-laden eggplant emoji – became a part of everyday conversation.
However, in 2015, people started wondering why certain images were privileged over the others? Like men emojis had men in various professions while women only had one emoji dedicated to them – the bride with the veil.
The POC had no representative emoji as every emoji appeared to be white. There was sushi emoji, but no other cultural cuisines like tacos, curry or enchiladas and ‘couple with heart’ emoji represented a straight couple.
Emojis became digital acknowledgement of culture
Emoji underwent a major change in 2014 during the Great Emoji Politicization. They were no longer seen as just a means of exchange of information, but a representation of varied cultures around the globe. It became a digital acknowledgement of cultures. Unicode diversified the emoticons in 2015 by adding options to change the skin tone up to six shades, adding varied people of varied genders with varied occupations and professions, doing varied things – women cycling, emoji with turbans and hijabs and the most recent, the gender-neutral emoji.
How many emojis are sent out every day?
Over 5 billion emojis are sent over every day. 2018 celebrated the emoji when Apple launched new ones to include more people in their list like redheads, a mango, kangaroo and lobster etc.
Since an emoji is a parcel of life, World Emoji Day is celebrated every year on July 17th.
The ‘17th July calendar’ emoji has its place in the long list of emojis. The unofficial celebration of emoji was the brainchild of Emojipedia (Like Wikipedia for emojis) which was started in 2014. Since then, carpet events, activities and gatherings are planned every year to celebrate it.
New York’s Empire State Building was lit with ‘emoji yellow’ in 2017 in honour of the World Emoji Day. In Dubai, people gather dressed up as emojis to celebrate the special day. Companies like Apple and Android introduce their new set of emojis to add to the comprehensive list of emojis every year.
World Emoji Day activities you can try
- Converse only with emojis – One emoji replies rule the day.
- Go baking. There’s nothing cuter than turning little emojis into baked items. If you are creative try different colour frosting to make the little ‘hearts on eyes’ emoticon or how about the poop emoji?
- Take an emoji, make it into a song. Send songs using different emojis only. Let your friends guess the tracks.
- Turn your own photos into an emoji.
- Find that emoji T-shirt that has been lying in the corner of the wardrobe.
- Try out having an emoji day at your workplace. It will be a lot of fun.