Yesterday (July 17th) was, apparently, World Emoji Day.
Why? Because the emoji symbol for calendar shows the date July 17th (which, in turn, is based on the logo for Apple’s Calendar app).
According to website Today Translations:
Whilst really taking off in 2011 when Apple first offered its users the ability to send emojis on their mobile platform, their existence actually stretches back to the Japanese mobile phone operating systems of the late 1990s.
The creation of emojis can be attributed to Shigetaka Kurita, who in the late 1990s was working on a project called i-mode for the Japanese mobile network operator, NTT Docomo. He and the team he was working with sought a way to enable messages to convey more meaning at a glance than might be gleaned from simple textual content alone. He was also concerned with encouraging and maintaining Japanese society’s cultural orientation for personal relatedness between individuals and groups. Through the creation of emojis he would provide a way for people to communicate more intimately, something he thought was missing from the email and text messaging systems of the day. Shigetaka drew inspiration from multiple spheres of everyday life from the weather symbols used by media outlets to Japanese Manga comics. Out of these beginnings came the first character set of 176 emojis, which first took off in their homeland of Japan but their use soon spread to the rest of the world.
Nowadays, emojis have well and truly become part of the way we communicate, with one study estimating that around 80% of UK residents use them to communicate. Most 18-25 years old report that communicating with emojis is easier than communicating with words, only; though, somehow predictably, around half of over 40s say that they sometimes are unsure about the meaning of these symbols.
If you are struggling with deciphering an emoji-laden message; or would like to use these little symbols more but are worried about committing a faux-pas, then you might like this little resource that I discovered, recently: Emojipedia.
You can enter the symbol itself, or a description, in the search box; and learn about the most common uses of symbol means, as well as a little bit about the symbol’s history. You can even be alerted to some possible offensive uses of the symbol:
Be wary about using emojis in a professional context, though. As I have written previously, two people looking at the exact same emoji on the same smartphone platform can interpret that emoji quite differently; and emojis look different on different smartphone platforms, which influences how positively or negatively people react to them. Moreover, customers perceive employees who use emojis and emoticons in direct interactions as being nicer but less competent than those who don’t use these symbols.
Have you embraced emojis, or do you think that they are a silly distraction?