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Emoji - Language of the Millennial 💖

You may love them, you may hate them, but you can’t ignore them. Emoji’s are everywhere. They have become an inescapable facet of Instant Messaging and Social Media. Their use in fact has become so ubiquitous that books are now being written solely in emoji’s. In 2014, the White House released a report regarding education, debt and healthcare rates illustrated entirely in emoji. In 2015, the Oxford Dictionary word of the year was not a word but the 😂emoji.

The start of this new millennial language actually comes from much humbler times back in 1881 when the Puck magazine printed “typographic art” in the form of facial expressions created out of

punctuation marks.

(Puck magazine, 1881)

Around 100 years later, in 1991, Shigetaka Kurita, a Japanese engineer employed with a phone company took inspiration from Manga characters and created a set of 176 icons in an attempt to convey information in a more concise and pictorial way. He used these icons not only to represent the weather or traffic, but also in rationalising the level of ambiguity which sometimes entailed in words. For example, “I understand”, became, “I understand💖”, adding warmth and sympathy to an otherwise slightly hostile message.

(Shigetaka Kurita, 1991, emoji set)

What originally started out as pixelated icons has rapidly found a place in the modern society we live in and is continuing to move up the tech and digital marketing ladder. Facebook has been quick to incorporate the various emoji buttons in their communication strategy to gauge maximum interaction from users. Apple has advanced emoji representations by launching the Animoji feature. Millennial celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber have also been quick to capitalise on their brands by advertising customised emoji packs.

Emoji are a great way of communicating and conducting virtual relationships with more feeling and nuance. They help in conveying messages in a more universal manner, for example, a smiley face holds the same meaning in United States, India, Britain, Portugal, Italy and so forth.

As the diverse lexicon of emoji keeps increasing every year, it provides a level of self expression to users. The introduction of same-sex and more racially diverse Emojis shows the progression of not only the app development, but the coinciding movements with society. 

At the moment, more than 2600 emoji exist in the virtual space. The ever-so changing landscape with emoji and augmented reality has so much in store for us! 🚀

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