2016: Year of the Emoji
In 1999, expressing body language over the internet was a challenge for me. I would have been 11 years old when I encountered my first clever ‘expression’ over Blizzard’s (now Activision-Blizzard) early Battle.net service. I’m pretty sure the person’s username was aquaman-_- and even though I never saw hyphens and underscores before — let alone know what they’re called — I knew what it meant. This digital face expressed something human, something natural that translated to “can’t be bothered” or something like that in my mind.
As years passed and the internet evolved, so did these expressions. Depending on your culture, you would have likely seen some of these. Go ahead, let the nostalgia sink in a bit before reading on.
As you can see, these expressions all satisfy one thing: they don’t make you think. If words were easier to express, then words would be typed — but they’re not.
Fast forward to today and you’ll see all these expressions everywhere you go. They’re in your pocket, in your office, your bedroom — everywhere. But they don’t look how they did 10+ years ago—they got a major facelift. Oh, and an actual name: emoji.
No longer just used for expressing emotions, emojis now serve as popular culture symbols (literally). Since new years 2016, I’ve seen an explosion of emojis appearing in places I would have never expected.
Here’s an ad promoting Deadpool. If there was an Oscar for Best Billboard, this would probably be the frontrunner.
Clever? Check. Didn’t make me think? Check. Clear, resounding message delivered? Check. This is a perfect example of when less is more.
DJ Khaled, a popular music producer, has essentially figured out what nobody wants you to know: emojis paired with catchphrases are the 🔑 to success.
Still not convinced that this is emoji’s big year? Do me a favour and go open your inbox. You’ll probably see something like this.
Ok maybe not to this extent — but you get the point: emojis are very effective at grabbing your attention. Without them, text just looks plain and boring. More, you say?
A few weeks ago in March, Snapchat scooped up Bitmoji, a popular app for creating your own emoji avatars, for $100m USD.
Peach, a new popular social app, is named after the 🍑 emoji.
Quartz’s new conversation-based news app lets emojis speak for you. Not only does this save time, it offers a creative (and fun) way to interactively digest news.
Emojis are fun and in style. Expect more of this trend in 2016. Sorry 🐒, I’m going to go ahead and rename 2016 to the Year of the Emoji.
Matt is the co-founder and ceo of Yero — an iOS social app connecting people nearby through casual, relevant and quirky conversations (with plenty of emojis too)