/ Technology

World Emoji Day: do you love or loathe them?


The emoji in this image is officially named ‘face screaming in fear’ – would that sum up your feelings about emojis, or are you more of a 😁 kind of person?

Today is, apparently, World Emoji Day – conveniently timed in the build-up to the upcoming Emoji Movie. You may have seen that Patrick Stewart has landed a, shall we say, ‘interesting’ role.

It’s not like emojis are anything new – I remember using them on MSN Messenger in the early 2000s. But it’s only really been since the dawn of the smartphone as an everyday device and, later, WhatsApp, that they’ve seen a real surge in popularity and usage.

In fact, many are even asking if Emoji is the fastest growing language on the internet.

So what is it about adding these little faces to so much of our modern-day communication that has made emojis so universally popular?

Perhaps they can help lighten the mood, change the tone or, in some cases, convey thoughts and feelings you’re unable to get across through words alone?

Having said that, many will rightly point out that we got by just fine for quite a few thousand years without them – what’s changed now that we’re WhatsApping each other, rather than writing letters?
And what better day than today to get across one of my more niche grievances? Emojis display differently depending on what device you’re using.

Mental Floss, a popular culture website, once put together a list of nine emojis that look completely different on other phones – meaning that if you’ve got an iPhone, you could end up coming across completely different to how you’ve intended should your recipient own a Samsung phone.

This is especially important on social media, where tone is everything – the use of an emoji can completely change your message depending on the device it’s being viewed on 🙈

And then there’s the curious case of Emoji numbers. My Samsung phone ends up making tweets such as these rather difficult to understand!

When emojis go wrong


When emojis go wrong

We’d ❤️ to know how you feel about emojis – are you a regular user? Do you think they’re a fun visual aid? Or would you like to see less of them?

Of course, we already have some idea as to how some quarters of the community is going to vote. In January this year, Patrick Taylor commented:

God save us from emojis. They are very disruptive when speed reading as they break-up the letter patterns.

Whether you love them or loathe them, we’re sure everyone will have an opinion.


As George has pointed out, emojis can take on very different appearances depending on how they are viewed. It’s much like the problem of font substitution when viewing files created on another computer. It does not concern me that some contributors to Which? Convo use emojis and I have enjoyed the copious collections of emojis in some of the posts by @alfa.

We could do with a ‘safe’ list of emojis that are likely to have a similar appearance on all devices. 🙂

That’s disappointing, but the evolution of computer technology has been set back by lack of standardisation.


Language is an interesting thing for conveying both simple and complex messages. My fear is that emoji’s and cryptic initials actually are assumed by the sender to be comprehensible by the receiver.

If it is someone you know then it may make sense. When used to an audience of potentially ten’s of thousands this easily understood shorthand may breakdown . It may actually also trivialise what to some people as an important matter.

Use to friends seems fine elsewhere problematic. Rather like ghetto talk of ho” and movverfu ……. may seem delightfully edgy but really once mainstream in the UK looks pretty ridiculous.

Jane Austen never had this problem.

Had Jane been writing in 2017, I wonder if she would have used emojis with pride or been prejudiced against their use.

I think she would have had the good sense and sensibility to know when it was appropriate to use emotional abbreviations and when they would be inharmonious with the narrative.

“They may have given her the pip” Emma said discussing the emojis. However with a bit of persuasion, love and freindship she and Lady Susan went to see the Watsons.

At Northanger Abi showed them the view of the Park and they glimpsed the owner, Mr Man, in his field.

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This reminds me a bit of Windaes Twa Thoosan, the Weegie Edition of Windows 2000, which was available at the Barras for a time.

That was the Glesga Edishun. I’m not sure it supported emojis.

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Emojis do have a function in that communication, in past times restricted mainly to person-to-person, is now routinely very different. Close friends and family stay in touch all the time – which never happened in the past – and human communication relies not simply on words but on facial cues, intonation, cadencing, gesture and rhythm, none of which can be successfully employed in hand written letters. And that’s assuming each party is sufficiently literate to put together a letter – which many are not.

In the end, I suppose, not terribly different from having books with pictures.

Emojis have their place in modern communication. For one thing they can avoid misunderstandings about the spirit in which a sentence was written, as illustrated below.

I just don’t like the look of the updated Goodle emojis, and yes, it’s a pain in the neck we aren’t singing from the same hymn sheet. A ploy to make us spend more money somehow? A child of Betamax vs VHS? (Not sure you will remember that saga, George, you look too young! :0) (<- I don't know how to insert an emoji inside of a convo piece.)

To be fair emojis emerged shortly after the development of 9600 baud modems – the lowest realistic speed for sending mini-graphics – and the precursor to the modern forum – IRC. Forums throughout the ’90s (such as the original Which? forum, George 🙂 used them freely and the development of the popular SMF forum brought them in as mainstream items

The current batch of players are very late to the game, and it’s now a mature technology, likely to be replaced by animations, if not simply Facetime-like technology.

🙂 Cheers, George!

Does anyone know if they are available on Letraset?

Sorry, John. Letraset dry transfers are long gone, thanks to the ability of computers to produce a wide variety of fonts and sizes. Can we interest you in emoji stickers instead?

Thanks for the offer, Wavechange, but I think I’ll draw my own images using some tracing paper and carbon paper. I’m still a dab hand with Snopake and could probably – with a bit of correcting fluid – still cut a stencil to run off some copies on the Gestetner duplicator. I could fax them to you if you like. I only have Foolscap paper at the moment which will probably be a bit too long for you so I shall use a Quarto template. I have your number in my Filofax – DUNcan 6738 – I trust that is still correct. [Yes – he even had a whole telephone exchange in south east London named after him!].

Letraset seemed like mustard and the 3-colour combined ink cartridges of today. They made money out of what you left unused.

You could be right, Malcolm. I still have a box of Letraset, surplus to what I needed to label the controls of electronic equipment I built when I was a student. It was not cheap.

I didn’t waste much Letraset because I only rubbed off the letters or characters I needed and saved the rest for later, nevertheless I still had a karge assortment of part-used sheets when I started to use the computer for graphics. It certainly was not cheap, especially if you wished to use a number of different fonts and point sizes, but it was the only systematic way of labelling things consistently or producing templates for photocopying other than using a typewriter or a printshop. Perhaps it was cheap compared to the cost of buying and running a computer, but a PC opened up a whole new world of compositional tools that Letraset could not compete with. There still some small organisation magazines and newsletters that are using the original mastheads created in Letraset. I only stopped using my Letraset-formed but professionally printed headed notepaper when we moved house four years ago. By guillotining the header and footer we have a useful stock of notelets, and because they were printed on a heavy woven paper they make ideal drinks coasters.

I also look back affectionately on Dymotape, which is still going but not seen much nowadays outside old-fashioned hardware shops. That was another expensive material if you made a mistake by double clicking on a letter or missing one out. Depending on the squeeze pressure applied to emboss the letters, the results varied from quite good to mediocre and some of the cheaper machines couldn’t seem to get the letters in alignment or evenly spaced. Nevertheless the labels appeared on everything from suitcases and briefcases to office doors and parts bins, and from multi-drawer cabinets and pigeon holes to hotel key fobs and storage jars. The tangle of wires, plugs and sockets behind the TV and the computer all had Dymotape labels in different colours to make recognition easy.

As for emoji’s – they’re not much use unless you can translate them and empathise with the emotion suggested, especially the more complex ones. Those shown at the top of this Conversation make one realise what a consummate artist Edvard Munch was and how iconic was his depiction of screaming and its expression of fear.

The embossing tapes used in old Dymo labellers are still available. I have a small stock that I use to update my sets of parts drawers. Modern labellers are much better and allow you to preview and correct the text before printing. Having checked online, the latest ones will produce emojis. Now what would be appropriate for a tin of nice biscuits? 😊 Of course it would make me scream if they had all been Munched. 😱

Good humour, Wavechange.

It’s a coincidence that I was using my modern labelling machine only yesterday to produce some new identification labels for various control switches around the house but it made me think of Dymotape. For some reason red was the most popular colour.

Sorry, wrong place for reply, please delete. Thank you.

I suppose we all stopped using vellum at the same time as Parliament earlier this year.

By coincidence I mentioned the problem of labelling moulded plugs in another Convo. The BS 1363/A (impact resistant) type fitted to most electrical goods often has a curved and textured surface, which labels don’t stick well to. I’m surprised that those who produce standards have not made it a requirement to provide a flat surface and that electrical goods are not fitted with labelled plugs. For those with tumble dryers, maybe add appropriate emojis: 🔥 🚒

Sophie – I think the intention to use archive paper instead of vellum for Acts of Parliament was over-ruled by MP’s, and those gruff old billy-goats in the Upper Chamber who promoted the change have accepted the continuation of goatskin as the medium for keeping the record copy of all Acts of Parliament. There was a real fear that the vellum and parchment industry in the UK would be unsustainable if the Parliamentary contract was not renewed. Now, where did I put my kid gloves?

I have a couple of the old dymo machines and an entire bag of the tapes. Probably become somewhat stickyless by now….