There's no arguing that we're living in the age of the emoji. For all we know, it may well be our newest global language. And whether you feel *loudly crying face* or *thumbs up* about that, it begs the question: if you could only have five emojis for the rest of your life, which ones would you pick?
Editing down the full inventory of 845 icons is tough work, but I've got some ideas.
Considering the critical nature of this decision, I figured I should consult which emojis are the most popular before committing to my personal set of five. After all, I didn't want my enthusiasm for single-serving gems like the pink-painted nails and dancing ladies in bunny ears to cloud my judgment. Thankfully, FiveThirtyEight already did the heavy lifting and found the 100 most-used Emojis according to Twitter. It turns out that people really, really love hearts. And guns. And piles of poop.
But if I'm going to be stuck expressing myself with a meager handful of tiny pictures, those aren't going to fly. This is about versatility. And sure, I could have settled on five different facial expressions to cover the bases if I wanted to bore the hell out of everyone I communicate with, but that's not how I roll. In order to survive the Emojipocalypse like a champ, here's what I'll need:
The 100 points symbol: This is basically a more creative version of a thumbs up, OK gesture, or happy face, conveying an affirmative response in an enthusiastic way. That's three of the most popular Emojis condensed into one.
The see-no-evil monkey: Whether you're embarrassed, disgusted, or just generally beside yourself with emotion, this guy will do the trick. It's one cute-as-hell catch-all.
The worried face: Okay so this is technically a "worried" expression, but it's vague enough to cover a wide spectrum of not-so-great feelings. Concerned sympathy? Check. Stunned hatred? Also check.
The information desk person: She may be egregiously misnamed, but this woman -- who appears to be tossing her hair or generally doling out sass more than answering any information desk person-related questions -- would serve as the perfect wildcard in this deck of 'cons. To be used sparingly, and wisely.
The raised hands in celebration: This hallelujah is a go-to move for extreme happiness, praise, applause, pride, and appreciation. It's the obvious response to any text suggesting brunch.
I stand behind these picks, but I'm not going to pretend like I'm some infallible Emoji-whisperer. There's room for interpretation here, so I polled some of my colleagues to see what they'd pick, and why. Could we live in a world without the eggplant? What about black Santa? These are the questions of our time!
The black ant: "It has zero context, and you can't use it to mean anything. Basically, it's completely random, but I like it. And I feel like no one ever uses it, so I like to give it a chance." -- Alex Robinson, editor
The black Santa: Every year when I was a kid, I’d go to Pittsburgh to see my grandma and celebrate Christmas. And ever year one of her neighbors would put out this black Santa decoration. Just like a regular Santa, but he was black. It always stuck with me. I thought if Santa can be black, what else is possible?" -- Wil Fulton, staff writer
The mouthless face: "It covers a wide range of emotions because of its blankness. I’ve used it to express surprise, anger, disbelief, etc… it can fit a lot of situations." -- Brett Williams, editorial assistant
The water droplets: "I worship Pam Poovey -- she's a character from Archer that always say 'sploosh' -- and I think she would approve." -- Cole Saladino, photographer
The heart: "It means something different for every person I use it with. But usually it's to make a text or message a little more affectionate. It's really easy to misinterpret tone in a text. Like, if I say 'Can you pick up some wine,' that might come off as bossy and lazy, but if I say 'Can you pick up some wine <3' that's like me conveying my gratitude and general affection for the person I'm talking to. I basically use it to soften the tone." -- Michelle No, production assistant
The prayer hands: "Because I say PTL (praise the lord) a lot. It's also a general way to express gratitude, and the praying hands are the emoji-fication of that." -- Giselle Waters, social media coordinator
The hatching chick: "I know it’s technically not shrugging, but it looks like it and I find that so funny. To me, it’s a more hilarious version of the famed shrug emoji, except there’s the added layer of the shrug coming from a baby chicken. Like, why would a chicken ever have to shrug? Especially a baby chick. Especially as it’s being born." -- Jeremy Glass, staff writer
The sparkles: "Oh, I love sparkles. I use them to add emphasis around a word, or embellishment, or when I mean something to be endearing." -- Keller Powell, editor
All the cars: "Honestly, it's because I really don't use emojis much, except at work when I'm writing about cars all day." -- Aaron Miller, cars editor