STORY BY ELLEN KOESTER
From modest beginnings as a semicolon and parenthesis, the emoji has come a long way.
What began as a simple sideways smiley-winky face has evolved into an entire keyboard of different emoticons at the texter’s fingertips. Whatever the content of a text message or email, there is sure to be a little yellow face that can enhance it.
Avid emoji users will be pleased to learn Apple is preparing new emojis for the iPhone with a release date set for later this fall. The new emojis include a taco, a tiny unicorn head and allegedly, a middle finger.
Domino’s is also taking advantage of the emoji craze. According to new YouTube ads, a particularly lazy and hungry consumer can order by texting the pizza emoji to the pizza chain’s phone number.
Drake University first-year Hannah Thomas rarely added an emoji to her texts, but she has used them much more frequently in recent weeks.
“Sometimes, an emoji expresses what words can’t,” Thomas said. “Generally I prefer to talk on the phone or Skype. However, in instances where my friends and I can only text for short periods, emojis make it more personal. They add emotion to the text that words may not be able to express.”
Megan Brown, a professor who works with the English department at Drake, rarely uses emojis in her communications. Her eight-year-old son, however, uses them quite a lot. It is a personal connection he shares with his grandparents.
“My son’s favorite emoji is the smiling poop,” Brown said. “He is a big fan of sending his grandparents emojis. He sends them in a gigantic sequence. The only emoji I use is the big smiley face. I’m an English professor, so words are my trade. I rely on language whenever possible.”
Many emoji users are doing exactly the opposite. They are relying on pictures rather than words to get their message across. This is necessarily not a negative thing, though everyone has received a text containing one too many emojis and it is possible to overuse them.
“There are so many emojis I couldn’t imagine needing another one,” said Thomas, speaking about the new batch of emojis Apple is almost ready to send out. “And I think they could very easily be overused. Some people, rather than pairing emojis with words, use them instead of words. That doesn’t really work since emojis are open to interpretation.”
In general, Apple’s last emoji update was received well by users. It added options to change the ethnicities of the more realistic human emojis and added different sexual orientations for the couple and family emojis.
“I think (the last update) was a good idea because emojis show emotion and emotion is a very personal thing,” Thomas said. “So it should represent you if it is an emoji of a person.”
Students and professors alike agree that the portrayal of emotion should not be limited to one race or ethnicity in emojis.
“Why not have adequate representation?” Brown said.
The new update will not contain anything as revolutionary as the last update, although many, including Professor Brown, are looking forward to the taco emoji.