The secrets to emoji etiquette

Ned Browne 30 November -0001

No sooner had they arrived on the scene that Emojis seemed to be everywhere. Whether you're decoding messages from your children or composing your own Emoji texts, here's your comprehensive guide. 

What are emojis?


Let’s clear up some confusion first off: An "emoticon" is a typographic display of a facial expression, for example :-)  They’ve been around since the 1980s. Whereas, "Emojis", introduced just before the new millennium, by NTT DoCoMo (a Japanese corporation) are small digital pictures.

It’s now possible to have entire conversations, flirt, argue and debate using cute little digital icons, but, they’re easily misunderstood and misconstrued. 

Despite this, once the preserve of lovers and best friends, their general use is on the rise. For example, Tyler Schnoebelen, an Emojis oracle, discovered that 10 per cent of all tweets now contained an Emoji.


Emoji Dick

emoji moby dick

Fred Benenson had the bright idea to translate Herman Melville's Moby Dick into Emoji. 

Amazingly, he crowd-funded his idea, and you can now buy the book. What’s on the front cover? An Emoji whale, of course.


Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs millenials

On 6 March 2015, Goldman Sachs used a string of Emojis to explain the lives of Millennials. Yes, Goldman Sachs, the highly professional, polished, corporate investment bank.

What does it mean? We stand to be corrected, but here’s what Reader's Digest thinks: High student debt; weak economy; little prospect of a good job; boomeranging back to parents’ house after university; paying off debts; finally get a job; finding a partner; getting married; buying a house when they’re about 15 years older than their parents were when they did the same.

No, we don’t think Goldman Sachs is “down with the kids”. But, credit where credit is due, that’s Public Relations genius.


When not to use Emojis?


This is fast moving ground. Early adopters were teenagers (particularly girls), but now most adults have used them “at least once”. On the whole, they’re still a “no-no” at work. That especially includes your boss, who will almost certainly mistakenly think you’re flirting with him/her.

Emojis are frivolous, quirky, cute and fun—great for pre-evening-out banter.  Not so good when it’s time to be serious or when sad times are afoot. 


Emoji “grammar”

Bear these simple rules in mind when using Emojis:

  • Emojis come at the end of the sentence if they’re conveying an emotion
  • They can appear in the middle of a sentence too, but only if they’re replacing a word
  • Emojis are not full stops. Don’t use them as full stops
  • If you’re using a string of Emojis the order matters. For example, we weep first and then we have a broken heart. And make sure the barrel of the Emoji gun is pointing the right direction.
  • Another point of order: A single Emoji reply says, “I’m too busy for you” or “I can’t be bothered to reply”.  That might be fine, but bear it in mind


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