My heavily-invested relationship with emojis is teetering a little on the side of hate, all thanks to WhatsApp’s decision to unveil its new creations. The result? Strange-looking emojis that have enraged thousands of people, all of whom have taken to venting their frustrations online on why the new ghost emoji is no longer impeccable or why the heart-eyes emoji looks just a little too keen.
This admission by me is only partly true though; I’ve actually loved emojis my whole life. I’ve found them to be incredibly OP in conversations, cheesy but effective and weirdly articulate — depending on whom you’re talking to and what you’re talking about, they can either be wholly literal or bizarrely derivative. The thing is, emojis are semantically liberal enough to mean different things to people, unlike words, which have a set meaning and can be looked up in a dictionary. It’s not the same with emojis, not everyone’s going to be perusing through Emojipedia to figure out if the woman-with-her-hand-up emoji isn’t being as sassy as you thought she was; she’s just an information desk person, who, if you think about it, is kinda sassy IRL. Or the folded-hands emoji, which is easily (mis)interpreted as two people high-fiving.
an ideogram — an object or idea represented by an image and not through alphabets or words — used in electronic communication. The word emoji is a portmanteau of the Japanese e (絵, “picture”) + moji (文字, “character”)
But highly subjective as they are, emojis aren’t replacing words or languages. They’ve definitely gone rogue — what with all the misinterpreting and the miscommunication especially if you’re into the whole “I texted Tinder dudes using only emojis and this is what happened” conversation — but they haven’t taken over. Because even if users agree to a uniform interpretation of an emoji, there’re still glitches and inconsistent software across platforms that exist. Simply put, a Google Nexus user sending a grinning face to an Apple iPhone user might just interpret it as a grimace and get put off, until the former clarifies and subsequent emojis ruin it for them.