Emojis were introduced to us as a part of the new iPhone software in November of 2008. For most people, this was a brand new concept and emojis quickly became the next big thing, and arguably still are to this day. However, Apple was not exactly the first to introduce this idea to us. In 1999, Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita created the very first set of emojis in hopes of bettering communication within their mobile internet system that only allowed for 250 characters per email. His emojis were created in a very low pixel resolution and look very outdated in comparison to the modern vector emojis we see today.
There are now officially 2,623 emojis in the Unicode database. Why are emojis so popular? Emojis are capable of expressing just how we feel when we can’t seem to find the words. Similar to all caps or punctuation, emojis can imply tone and create a better overall understanding when communicating digitally with others. The meaning of each emoji can change based on context and interpretation. You can try this out for yourself. Text a loved one and say, “I have something to tell you” without any context, and you will most likely get a nervous response. Add a heart emoji to the text and you’ll probably get a normal or excited response. Add a baby emoji and…of course, you see where this is going.
With social media becoming as popular as it has over the past decade, different social sites are joining the emoji trend. In 2016, Facebook, for example, incorporated “reaction” emojis to make it easier for people to interact with posts on their timeline. This allowed users to express how a post made them feel with one simple click. That same year, Snapchat upped the game with the incorporation of bitmojis and stickers for users to add to their images. Bitmoji, created by the company Bitstrips, was originally an app that let you create a personalized comic strip with a cartoon avatar of yourself. They have now expanded into a whole personalization realm that lots of people incorporate into their daily digital communications.
The overuse of bitmojis tends to create a sort of fantasy world where an avatar is literally an extension of your own identity. Your friends may even be able to recognize you based on your avatar. People use bitmojis on the daily, whether it’s for a birthday post, adding something fun to baking, or for a Halloween costume. People love the idea of a cartoon representation of themselves.