Let the Emoji do the talking ….

If it’s true that a picture can speak a thousand words, then an emoji must express a thousand feelings.

Set of emoticons, emoji on

You know the emoiji. Those adorable little icons that started out letting you express your joy, or your anger, or your impish sense of humor in a Facebook posting, Tweet or text message. Well those little guys have now grown into a mainstream market for players large and small allowing us to represent everything we think, feel, hope, dream, aspire to or wish to convey to others.

But how did all those little smiling faces come about? The simplest roots can be traced back to the use of the emoticons in character-based computer systems. You remember the emoticon right? Where we using punctuation symbols to draw faces expressing a variety of emotions, moods or expressions. All very high tech in our low tech world.

White Lincoln Statue Memorial Washington DC

One of the earliest uses of an emoticon is loosely attributed to a transcript of a speech by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862 which reads “(applause and laughter ;)” although many just chalk this up to a typing error.

And while there are sporadic references to characters used to represent one feeling or another in written form since then, it was Scott Fahlman posting on the Carnegie Mellon University computer science board on September 19, 1982 who first formalized the characters and their meaning.

Set of smiley icons: different emotions

I am old school enough to remember a strictly text based character interface of the old computer systems – and back in those days we expressed our shock ;-o or joy ;-) or disapproval ;-( anytime we could. But most folks now came of age in the GUI (or graphical user interface) world introduced first by Apple and later adopted all computer manufacturers. You take for granted that you can mouse click your way to self expression (that’s right, we didn’t even have a mouse back then – it was all keyboards and function keys!).

It took the Japanese mobile phone companies to introduce the first emojis in the late 1990’s to transform our cute character emoticons into the rich, colorful graphic icons we have grown so accustomed to using.

In fact, it was Apple with their iPhones, and later with the Android operating system, that brought those little graphics from a handful of users in Japan to the masses worldwide all with a touch of the finger. And with that the graduation from smiley faces and expressions to a vast array of options so large that an entire web site is dedicated to just listing emojis with their meaning ( emojipedia.org).

There is even a World Emoji Day holiday celebrated on July 17th of each year as a “global celebration of the emoji” mostly commemorated through social media.

Smiling heart

2014 is the last year for which the emoji popularity was able to be tracked on Twitter before the company pulled access for Matthew Rothenberg’s @emojitracker application. At that time the number one used emoji was the Hearts having been tweeted over 342 million times with the smiley face expressing Joy, Unamused, Heart Eyes, Relaxed, OK Hand, Heart, Kissing Heart, Blush and Pensive rounding out the top 10.

But the modest little emoji has come along way since then from the simple smiley face to include animals, food, sports, holidays, professions, etc. etc, etc. The basis for an emoji is really limited only by ones imagination (and I mean your WHOLE little imagination at that).

And fortunately for emoji fans everywhere, dedicated designers with wonderful imaginations are creating new emoji graphics for consumption everyday. There are almost 14,000 emoji graphics available here on dreamstime with new content being added all the time.

Panic emoticon

So search the database for that mood – that you can’t quite express using mere words – I’m sure you will find the perfect emoji to say it for you!

Photo credits: William Perry, Vasyl Duda, Ivan Kopylov, Lena Pronne, Yael Weiss.

Your article must be written in English

July 21, 2017


I love emojis! A picture is worth a thousand words!

July 17, 2017


Happy World Emoji Day everyone!

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