How do you judge the progress made in your city, country or even the world?
There are a variety of measures available. Access to education, food and housing might be one metric.
Economic aspects might be another method with inflation, employment levels and economic stability. But I propose a different indicator.
Worldwide emoji usage and specifically changes in emoji usage could well be used to determine how people are feeling. Maybe I am reading too much into emoji usage?
The Unicode Consortium selects the emoji icons used by smartphones across the world based on submissions and then applying certain criteria.
There are currently 3663 approved emojis, but most people use only a tiny smattering of those.
I am trying to read the combined human psyche from the latest rankings published by the Unicode Consortium.
These rankings are based on usage by the 6.05 billion smartphones currently in use - a fair representation. The number one emoji in use is "face with tears of joy" with number two "red heart". These maintained their ranks from the 2019 results.
Looking at the top 50 emojis, "loudly crying face" has moved up from eight to five and "crying face" has dropped from 20 to 41.
The rest of the top 50 are all generally happy emojis with some notable movers including: "thumbs up" sticking up from 10 to four; "smiling face with hearts" grinning from 16 to eight; "party popper" blasting from 35 to 11; "birthday cake" making a huge jump from 113 to 25; "partying face" enjoying the move from 78 to 30 while "balloon" floated up from 139 to 48.
If I didn't know better, I would say that the last two years saw a world full of happiness and partying.
Pandemic specific emojis were used minimally. The emoji "hot face" heated up from 236 to 83 and "woozy face" wobbled up from 176 to 96 while "face with medical mask" only uncovered a few more places going from 186 to 156. This pandemic has gripped the media and governments around the world, but according to emoji usage, it hardly rated a mention.
Moving further down the list, there were some big movers and shakers. The "double exclamation mark" made a statement by dropping from 36 to 113; the users of "sleepy face" must not have gotten out of bed early enough as it dropped from 68 to 188; "soccer ball" rolled down from 131 to 235; "speaking head" fell quiet from 120 to 277; quite understandably "airplane" dropped out of the sky from 167 to 292 and the blue "play button" pressed down from 177 to 309.
Emojis on the way up include "rabbit face" which hopped from 346 to 137; "cold face" which thawed out from 370 to 159; "shopping cart" weaved its way from 785 to 196; "rabbit" from 581 to 211 (why the fascination with rabbits?); "cupcake" topped up 457 rankings from 691 to 234; the strangely specific "bridge at night" went from 985 to 388; "houses" built up from 977 to 436 and understandably "microbe" was another pandemic-fuelled riser from 1086 to 477. All of these still show a world travelling along quite nicely.
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The person-sport category is very popular and even though "person doing cartwheel" is not an Olympic sport (should it be?) it is the most popular emoji in that category.
The largest collection, with 258 emojis, is flags but it is used the least. Maybe we are not as nationalistic as we might like to think.
The Unicode Consortium awaits your submissions to see which new emoji will make it on the list.
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