Emoji have graduated and gotten jobs, y’all. For the last two years, we’ve been writing about their origins and usage, largely blossoming from the youth space. Click here and here to learn about Emoji Day’s background in our previous YouthBeat Speaks! blogs.
This year’s new iOS releases, approved by the Unicode Consortium, reflect a growing global understanding of gender inclusivity, couples’ inclusivity, and current events. Long hair and a beard? You got it. Mixed-race couple of one or more genders? Choices are there too. Syringes have also been updated to reflect vaccination delivery rather than blood draws, a true sign of the times for 2021.
What fascinates us most this year, however, is how pervasive this visual form of language has become in the business world. In the age of remote work, Teams and Zoom software have options for “raising your hand” for attention during a call or reacting to what others say by typing, either live or asynchronously. Serious emoji-communicators can find all kinds of other images and add them into these shared message spaces too, including Microsoft Teams.
Our favorite grown-up emoji clearinghouse, however, is the one on Slack. It’s the popular back-channel communication tool that remote workers use to keep up instant commentary while observing or participating in the endless virtual meetings we’ve all been in for more than the last year. And its newest releases reflect the reality of working at home and striving for work/life balance—bunny slippers, walking the dog, taking a break to chef up a meal, you name it. They even post instructions on how to customize your emoji for your current situation. Once simply the lexicon of teens who like to communicate in ways parents don’t understand, emoji have grown up. Many of those early users are now in the workforce, and the usefulness of emojis has become apparent even to the Gen Xers and Boomers who they may have initially mystified. Now they’re in your meetings with your CMO and sales force.
If you create your own custom emoji, we’d love to see it! Please share it on our Twitter feed, @YouthBeatSpeaks. And have fun celebrating the progression this year!