Not a lot of people are sending messages flush with 💩 emoji. Users aren’t accenting outraged tweets with 😱 faces. No, according to a new report from Apple, most emoji users are crying tears of joy. Tucked into a report on the tech giant’s differential privacy technology released last week is a chart of the ten emoji most used by English-speakers in the United States, and 😂 is far and away the favorite.
If Apple’s 📊 is proportionally accurate, “face with tears of joy” is used more than four times as frequently as the next most popular emoji, the red heart, which people really do seem to ❤️. These are followed by “loudly crying face” (😭), “smiling face with heart-eyes” (😍), “face blowing a kiss” (😘), “face rolling eyes” (🙄), and “skull” (💀), “smiling face with smiling eyes” (😊), “weary face” (😩), and “thinking face” (🤔) in that order.
As The Verge points out, Apple’s data about English language users in the US aligns fairly closely with the numbers on Emojitracker.com — which tracks worldwide emoji use on Twitter in real time — though there are some notable discrepancies, too. On the whole, Twitter users seem to be more diligent than English-speaking Americans about ♻️. Emojipedia, meanwhile, ranks “face with tears of joy” third in popularity behind “person shrugging” and the red heart.
Perhaps partly explaining the popularity of the 😂 emoji is the fact that it holds the unique distinction of having been selected by Oxford Dictionaries as 2015’s word of the year, the only emoji (or pictogram, for that matter) to receive the honor. According to Oxford University Press, it was the most-used emoji that year in the UK and the US, accounting for a full 20% of all emoji use in Britain. Anecdotal evidence based on surveying the Hyperallergic office suggests that the ubiquity of the “face with tears of joy” emoji may also be due to its polysemic nature. Indeed, it can be used for its intended purpose of conveying overwhelming joy or side-splitting hilarity, but also to articulate a kind of dogged good humor in the face of overwhelming sadness, injustice, exhaustion, and frustration — when you “laugh to keep from crying,” as Q-Tip once put it. 🤔
While “face with tears of joy” is an OG emoji (it made its debut in October 2010 with the release of Unicode 6.0), it will be interesting to see how the latest batch of emoji, which Apple began to roll out with iOS11.1 last month, will rank. Will “face with monocle” be the next “face with tears of joy”? 🤷♀️