Q: How did emojis become so popular?
A: Emojis as we now use them started in Japan in the late 1990s. They were adapted quickly because emoticons like : ) were already used in emails, blogs and other forms of electronic communication. So the picture versions of emoticons were a logical next step, and as is often the case with new technological advances, they first appeared on cellphones in Japan. However, it wasn’t until the introduction of smartphones in the mid-to-late 2000s that the rest of the world would get to see and use them on a regular basis. They’re cute little pictures … how could they not be popular?!
Q: What do you think is the future of emojis? Do you think they’ll always be creating more? Do you see it as more of a fad?
A: I don’t view the use of emojis as a fad at all. Many people said the same about social media just a few years back. Pictures used to represent words or phrases have been part of language and communication for thousands of years. Emojis are here to stay both in and out of social media use and in other technological uses, such as gaming and popular culture. I mean there has to be a sequel to the “Emoji Movie,” right? I also don’t envision a massive new set of emojis being released every year, and I like the way only a few are released at a time. We have access to nearly 3,000 of them, and I can’t imagine having to sift through, say, double that number. My predictions for emoji use and development in the future are: scratch-n-sniff emojis on your phone and 3D emojis. Seriously.
Q: What’s the most popular emoji?
A: I believe two are near the top of the popularity list: 😍 Smiling Face With Heart-Eyes and ❤️ Red Heart. Face With Tears of Joy 😂 is up there, as well. Also of note are the ones least used (see here). If only I could work 🕴 Man in Suit Levitating into our daily @SJCNY social posts more often.
Q: How do you think the popularization of emojis has changed the way we use social media?
A: It has certainly made it easier and more fun to respond to social media posts. At times, it’s made it more confusing, too, if you misread the use of them. Using emojis makes us more human on these platforms — more social. Typing out “birthday cake“ in reply to a social post regarding a friend’s birthday doesn’t evoke the same feelings as posting a 🎂 instead.
Q: On which social media platform do you see emojis used the most?
A: By far Instagram. Although in the last two years or so, I have seen use of them grow in popularity on Twitter. I don’t know why, but I am seeing them used more and more by brands and other organizations. We’ve adjusted our approach on @SJCNY and use them more, as well.
Q: How have emojis changed our ways of communicating? Do you think it’s for better or for worse?
A: Like any form of communication, there are both good and bad consequences. I don’t view the use of emojis as fitting solely into either bucket. We use emojis to convey our thoughts exactly and to supplement our messaging. That can be a good thing. For me, the use of emojis enriches our digital conversations in the same way that we use and rely on body language in face-to-face conversations. Our world is already filled with symbols used to represent simple and complex phrases, expressions and things. The introduction of emojis filled a digital void, and it will continue to evolve.
Q: What’s the most interesting thing about emojis to you?
A: The emojis that are missing are perhaps the most interesting to me. There’s some obvious food ones (looking at you, potato chips and waffles) that many users want, and even a wider selection of cars and choices for holidays. A Shushing Face was just released last year. Why did it take so long? It was nearly 10 years before we saw a taco, pretzels or bacon! I mean come on, how are we supposed to live like this? I find the ones we don’t have yet to be more interesting than the ones we have. Oh, I like emoji sentences, too! Those are fun to try and decipher.
Q: What’s your favorite emoji?
A: Why the bear face 🐻 and eagle 🦅, of course!