What was the most recent emoji you sent? There’s a bit of a rhetorical question there; statistically, they already know if your emoji usage matches that of the rest of the globe. The Unicode Consortium has issued their study on the top emoji in 2021, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect.
The top emoji this year were:
😂 – Face with tears of joy
❤️ – Red heart
🤣 – Rolling on the floor laughing
👍 – Thumbs up
😭 – Loudly crying face
🙏 – Folded hands
😘 – Face blowing a kiss
🥰 – Smiling face with hearts
😍 – Smiling face with heart-eyes
😊 – Smiling face with smiling eyes
There’s a reason why the crying-laughing emoji at the top of the list has been feeling a little old for a while: according to the Unicode Consortium, 5% of all emoji transmitted are 😂. Furthermore, the top 100 emoji accounted for 82 percent of all emoji exchanged in 2021.
There is no data for 2020, however the list for 2021 isn’t substantially different from the one for 2019 (😂 ❤️ 😍 🤣 😊 🙏 💕 😭 😘 👍). The two hearts emoji has been demoted to 13th place, with the joyful face with hearts taking its place in the top ten.
The Unicode Emoji Subcommittee of the Consortium researches emoji popularity to determine which sorts of emoji should be considered for future expansions. It claims that this year’s statistics show that people prefer to utilise universally appealing emoji with many meanings: for example, the folded hands emoji might easily symbolise prayer, but it’s also commonly used as shorthand for thanks.
There are a few more fascinating tidbits in the study as well. For one thing, the polar opposite of the aforementioned universality rule holds true: super-specific emoji like flat shoe () are rarely used. Despite having the largest number (258 choices), country flags are also among the least popular emoji.
“This data is a strong signal to encode fewer specific concepts like flags and less single-use objects like shower caps,” the Consortium says, and “instead focus on globally-relevant, well established communicative concepts,” the Consortium states. To them, that makes logic.
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