What We Learned from Emojicon

What We Learned from Emojicon

Emojicon. Now there’s something you probably didn’t know would one day be in your vernacular. But it happened last month in California. And here are a few interesting takeaways that had us excited for the future of digital communication:

New emoji get pitched here.

If you’ve been dying for a new emoji, there’s actually a process of pitching that happens at Emojicon. Are you passionate about a grilled cheese or Schnauzer emoji? You better rehearse your points of cultural significance and popularity to get ready for next year.

There was a real exchange of ideas about the future of language.

Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch “assure[d] grandpas everywhere that emoji are not going to replace English either, with young whippersnappers drooling on their emoji keyboards like illiterate cave people. Most people don’t actually use emoji as ‘linguistic devices,’ substituting [emoji for fries] for fries and likewise for every word they can, she said. Instead, they function more as paralinguistic things, devices that give nuance to the words we’re using, just like body language or pitch of voice. McCulloch noted one study that found kids who use more emoji actually tend to use more standard spellings, too (avoiding things like “yaaaaaayyyyy”) because those images are sending cues about meaning that they might otherwise resort to non-standard writing to convey” (Time.com).

Isn’t that amazing? Emoji isn’t killing the written language; on the contrary, it’s simply being utilized to enhance it.

Unicode, the “Overlords of Emoji,” don’t dictate how emoji look across platforms.

Unicode is trusted with saying that this bit of code should manifest as a “smiley face” across all platforms, for example, though it’s up to individual companies to decide how they want that smiley face to look in their respective systems.

Facebook rep says cultural awareness is everything.

Like with the recent movement to show emoji women in more professions, big wigs at Google and Facebook are taking note of how these little characters can (and should) reflect current attitudes and trends in popular culture. Similar to words that have been ostracized from popular vocabulary which can be linked to oppression or prejudice, visual depictions are becoming a more sensitive matter.