Happy Emoji Day! As per tradition, new emojis have been revealed ahead of the annual celebration on July 17. This year, 31 new emojis are being proposed, among them a moose, a comb, a donkey, a jellyfish, a ginger root, maracas, the WiFi symbol, and a “talk to the hand” icon.
The seemingly innocuous pink heart is the favorite of Emojipedia’s editor-in-chief, Keith Broni.
“Everyone seems to be excited about it,” Broni told Hyperallergic. “The perpetual question of, ‘Why is there no plain pink heart emoji?’ will now be answered.” After Emojipedia creates its official proposal, the new emojis need to be approved by the Unicode Consortium which sets text standards worldwide. That approval process takes place later this year, and the new emojis will hit iPhones and Androids in early 2023.
Broni told Hyperallergic that in order to be accepted by Unicode, the new emojis need to be applicable across different demographics for multiple contexts, and if the emoji is hyper-specific, it must be culturally relevant.
Emojis have been around since 1999, and after almost 25 years, they have become a near universally accepted form of communication. Last year, an Adobe report found that 88% of people felt more empathetic toward someone if they used an emoji, and 66% of people liked it when emojis were used at work. The study also found that using the eggplant and peach emojis — symbols associated with “sexting” — made people less likable with romantic interests.
Like the eggplant and the peach, other emojis carry meaning beyond what they directly represent. For example, the crying laughing emoji has become a mark of millennials and baby boomers — to virtually laugh without exposing yourself as uncool, you will need to use the crying emoji or the skull.
This year, though, only two emojis depict the human body in any form — a dizzying shaking face expressing shock or confusion and a hand that can be interpreted as either a high-five or a gesture to stop talking (Broni confirmed both interpretations are accurate). Improbably, Broni also said the new hand icon could also be “a nice way to push along another emoji, maybe a cute animal emoji, like ‘there you go little buddy, up you go.'”
In the hand’s multifaceted potential applications, Broni drew a parallel to the praying hands emoji, which has been used been used to represent a high-five, prayer, and other gestures and greetings.
And the shaking face, an admittedly bizarre addition to the canon, could express the emotion of being “shook” or startled, but it could also represent being physically shaken, like by an earthquake, Broni said.
For now, at least on Twitter, users are breathing new life into less popular emojis, sharing their personal applications of seemingly banal icons for objects such as bowling pins or delivery boxes:
Even after this Twitter trend dies down, these emojis will remain, forever part of our digital language. Broni told Hyperallergic that emojis are never removed once they’ve been added to Unicode’s list.
“When we create an emoji, it’s an emoji forever,” Broni said.