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Why are we so familiar with the same emojis every time?

The pandemic caused a new custom: avoid crowds.

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Why are we so familiar with the same emojis every time?

The pandemic caused a new custom: avoid crowds. Social distance, along with hand washing and using a mask has been a friend to our health.

Perhaps this new tendency to avoid crowds has been integrated into the world of Emojis for a long period. Even though there are many, they don't always go together. The concept of a stable coexistence group can be applied to the emojis on our phones without any problems.

The 2021 ranking of most popular emojis was almost identical to that of 2019. While some rose in rank, most of the ten most used emojis pre-pandemic were still in force.

Further, the study by the authors in this article in 2016 revealed that these were the most popular emojis in Argentina and Spain. It is amazing that even though there are many options, we choose the same ones.

We don't have more than 3600 pictograms. Sometimes we can't find the right one to express our emotions or feelings.

At a family gathering, someone might ask, "Am I an alien? I can't find the emoji that I need?" The father wanted to include an emoji as a way to express his feelings. His son was named the best classmate in his grade. He can't find one and sends a heart instead. One more point is the versatile red heart.

There are frequent conversations about missing emojis or not being understood emojis. What does the "blue heart" mean? These questions derive from two prejudices.

The first is based on the belief that a limited set of elements can account for an infinite number of objects, feelings and gestures. The second is that each emoji is able to convey a stable and precise meaning. The versatility of emojis and the many uses they can be combined make them very versatile.

In fact, emojis that go beyond the literal meaning of the word are some of the most loved and used in a variety contexts.

These elements have a metaphorical use or polysemy that is not ambiguous. They almost always signify positive things, depending on the context in which it appears. This is the case with gestural emojis such as hearts and biceps which signify strength and encouragement. We tend to choose those that are less risky and more in line with the proposal, except for rare exceptions.

WhatsApp is more popular than other social networks, such as Twitter, which can be controversial. WhatsApp allows for affiliative ties. Most emojis in the first position indicate empathy, agreement, and other positive meanings.

Images that express gratitude () or indicate agreement () are highly productive in a culture that values rapprochement. However, they may consider us old if we use an emoji ().

While a lot of digital communication is reduced to contact conversations (good Morning greetings, for instance), the organization of meetings, and in the case of communicative spheres other than commercial or institution, the exchange of information, it's expected that the number of emojis will continue to be restricted to these recurring topics, which are closely linked to the expressions of agreement and gratitude.

Emojis can be used in conjunction with written text. We used to use abbreviations back when we had alphanumeric keyboards, but it was hard to include all letters. Now we can choose elements from our controlled "recent" emojis world to express ourselves without needing to dig into the whole repertoire.

Stickers (or stickers) can also be found in the menu. They appear in every message, but unlike emojis they are isolated and each user has their own set. A small collection grows as more stickers are saved. They are not standardised and they don't have a category system. It's like having a personal scrapbook that never ends. This is why stickers are often confused in certain areas, or used to be playful.

As with the post-pandemic changes to habits, a new update to our apps caused a tremor among a group so used to stability: the emergence of WhatsApp reactions. These six options were suggested to reply to messages, perhaps echoing users' expressive and graphic needs.

No longer do we have to press for milliseconds to tell our interlocutors whether we agree with them, if they like it, or if it makes we laugh, surprise, sadden, or if God wills it so.

It could be the end of the banishment of the thumbs up and red heart emojis. Will they be able to claim their place on the podium and earn a spot among the selected group of reactions? We will have to wait to see which of the many multi-modal elements we select next year.

This article was published in "The Conversation".

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