Gingers, vegan salads what's next for the emoji?
By Diane Cooke
Last week we had the first ginger emoji. This week it's vegan salads. One wonders what Google will think of next to prove its dedication to inclusivity and diversity - three-legged overweight dogs or one-eyed anorexic cats, maybe?
But seriously, we're talking about emoji here - little symbols representing everything in society, from emotions to sexuality. And there you have it. Emoji have become representative of the lives we lead, the feelings we have, so one size doesn't fit all and I'm not talking aubergines here.
The word emoji comes from the Japanese language: 絵 (e ≅ picture) 文 (mo ≅ writing) 字 (ji ≅ character); emoji represent actual icons that appear on the keyboard or that are converted from emoticons such as ;-). Although emoji are quite recent, emoticons have been used since 1982 when a Carnegie Mellon professor used a smiley face on the computer science general board.
The first emoji was created in the 90s to serve the purpose of translating emotions to express facial expressions. Indeed, researchers found that the same sections of the brain are activated when an individual sees an emoji as when seeing real human facial expressions. As such, emoji solve the inability to express gestures and emotions by allowing users to communicate through a variety of picture characters to express opinions, feelings and personality.
In 2015, the Unicode Consortium introduced a range of emoji skin tone modifiers, giving users the ability to express diversity in many forms such as race, gender and ethnicity. The ability to express diversity through emoji is key in digital communication if people want to create confidential uniqueness and a sense of identity within a personal or business related relationship.
Communications consultancy Lansons reckons that emoji can save you a thousand words. Whether used to substitute words or the latest Twitter branded hashtags, they taken social media platforms from communities that simply allow freedom of speech, to communities that react and feel emotion. This shift towards more behavioural social media platforms was highlighted when Facebook changed its like button to include six different emotions to allow users to be more expressive and reactive to updates.
So maybe a three-legged overweight dog wouldn't be such a strange suggestion. They're part of society, after all. Sad face emoji.