Finally, I became a sour grape. I scowled so much that my face got all squishy.
from The Sour Grape
written by Jory John
illustrated by Pete Oswald
HarperCollins Publishers, 2022
accessed on YouTube 4/23/23
When my sister was in high school, she took a course in shorthand. The top of her homework book was spiral-bound. and the cardboard cover flipped up and over to uncover neatly arranged squiggles on all the pages. A secret language, a code I thought. I taught myself some of the simpler words, and used them when I took notes in my own classes, even when I went to college. I made up some symbols of my own, too. Saying a lot in a little bit of space was not only practical, it was fun. Like poetry, kinda. At least it was for me.
I love words, but a picture really is worth a thousand of them. Maybe that’s why I love emoji (the plural s is optional). The different tilts of an eyebrow suggest confusion, anger, or surprise. A smile can be just a hint or a wild guffaw shown by those laughing tears flowing from a tilted head. They are all easy-to-read shortcuts to communicate everything from our emotions, to our travel plans.
Remember the smiley face? It was designed by Harvey Ball to boost employee morale of the State Mutual Life Assurance Company. Harvey said he dashed out a “…a circle with a smile for a mouth on yellow paper, because it was sunshiny and bright.” In 1963, the company paid him $45.00. They distributed thousands of buttons and signs.
Mr. Ball’s simple design became ubiquitous. By the 1970s, his slogan “Have a happy day” had evolved into “Have a nice day” which has also become ubiquitous.
A French journalist, Franklin Loufrani, also claims to have designed the Smiley face. In 1971, he launched the Smiley Company, which in 2017, earned $419.9 million. After surviving for over 50 years, the Smiley is here to stay. You can find Smiley faces on everything from tea cups to T-shirts.
It’s a short leap from a Smiley to an emoticon like ;-) or <3 or even (^_^). And another short leap to emoji. The word emoji comes from the Japanese and combines two words, picture and character.
It is said that the modern emoji was invented by Shigetaka Kurita in 1999. Their popularity grew, especially with the invention and mushrooming growth of smartphones. While emoticons can be “written” with any keyboard, or even dashed out by hand emoji are embedded in smartphones and available with the tap of a finger. Even some laptops have an emoji bank.
According to Paul D. Hunt who writes a blog for Adobe here, empathy is the most important aspect of communication. And the results of a survey of 7,000 people from all around the world show that [using] emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others.
Emoji live and are managed by a nonprofit called Unicode. Begun in 1988, Unicode characters allow all devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, cloud computers) to share or exchange text written in any language or with symbols. Even though emoji are what most people know about Unicode, they make up only a small part of what it provides.
Digital Information World has tallied up emoji usage across the globe. They tell us that the “laughing face with crying tears is the most commonly seen in at least 75 nations.”
Emoji have really transformed the way we express ourselves on the internet and according to Emojipedia.com, new emojis will be released to major platforms throughout 2023.
Bark is an app that monitors texts, email, YouTube, and over 30 apps and social media platforms for issues like cyberbullying, adult content, sexual predators, profanity, suicidal ideation, threats of violence, and more. In addition, they provide a dictionary, updated frequently, of emoji slang used by teens, mostly. It’s a list of what you would expect kids are “talking” about when they don’t want their parents to know, but can be used as a bullying tactic. Here's the link.
If you love emoji as much as I do, you might want one of your own. You can adopt a character that describes you or your company or even give one as a gift. On Unicode's website, select your sponsorship level, select your character and make your donation. You can adopt as many characters as you want for $100.00 each. Donations help the Unicode Consortium reach its goal to support all the world’s languages.
World emoji day is July 17 each year. That is the day that the founder of Emojipedia created the calendar emoji in 2014.
I really enjoyed Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Knopf/Doubleday, 2022). The book is necessary. It’s a lesson in what happens when a society that suppresses half its population begins to realize its own potential. It’s feminism at its best: a lesson in self-awareness, equanimity, and positive role models. And it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
-—be curious! (and express yourself)