Statistics don’t always tell the whole story, emoji popularity

Around the beginning and end of every year, somebody somewhere creates a list of that year top 10, top 100, etc. of different topics.  In 2022, there are lists for everything.  Do you want to know how your favorite website Sloto Cash ranked against other casino websites?  There is a list somewhere on the internet that will tell you that information.

There are even lists of top emojis.

For most of these lists, the rankings are pretty straightforward.  You survey 1000 people or sales records or internet postings and you can get your information.

For this conversation, we will ignore the whole political candidate rankings, which can easily be squad deeding on who you ask, where you ask, when you ask, and how you word the questions.

But getting back to emoji characters.

Altough emoji were invented in 1997 by a Japanese phone company.  They really became popular starting in 2010.  In 2015 is when the first official emoji list came out, emoji version 1.0.

2015 top 10 emoji in Twitter use

  1. Tears of joy — πŸ˜‚ (very very happy)
  2. Crying hard (loudly crying) — 😭 (very very sad)
  3. Heart eyes — 😍
  4. Blushing smile — 😊 (embarrassed)
  5. Big red heart — ❀ (love)
  6. Two hearts — πŸ’• (love of two people)
  7. Stars  — πŸ’« (dizzy)
  8. Blowing kiss — 😘 (giving you a kiss)
  9. Clapping hands — πŸ‘ (congratulations)
  10. Fire — πŸ”₯ (hot, on fire, really like)

These emoji icons represent what we would think they represent, and they cover the major emotions.

2017 top 10 emojis

  1. Tears of joy — πŸ˜‚ (very very happy)
  2. grinning face with open smile — πŸ˜€ (very happy)
  3. Crying hard (loudly crying) — 😭 (very very sad)
  4. ove struck emoji, heart eyes — 😍 (when young people fall in love, they want to share the good news with the world)
  5. blowing kiss emoji — 😘 (who can not love giving a loved one a virtual kiss)
  6. rolling eye emoji — πŸ™„ (I can’t believe you wrote what you just wrote)
  7. skull — πŸ’€ (people are starting to have fun with emoji characters)
  8. smiling face with smiling eyes — πŸ™‚ (happy)
  9. tired face — 😫
  10. The thinking man — πŸ€”

In this list, there are still no surprises, and we are starting to see that people are giving personality to the their emoji choice.

2019 top 10 emojis

  1. Tears of joy — πŸ˜‚ — 9.9% use (very happy)
  2. Red heart — ❀️ — 6.6% use (love, person or comment)
  3. Love struck — 😍 — 4.2% use (in love)
  4. Rolling on the Floor Laughing — 🀣– 3.2% use (humor)
  5. Blushing — 😊 — 2.0% (embarrassed)
  6. Folding hands — πŸ™ — 1.9% (thank you)
  7. Face and hands — πŸ€— — 0.7% (another happy face, hey, if people are happy, who cares)
  8. Hand pointing down — πŸ‘‡ — 0.4% (See below)
  9. Party hat face — πŸ₯³ — 0.3% (Congratulations, let’s celebrate)
  10. Flowers — πŸ’ — 0.2% (Used to represent love for mother or a parental, sibling love, as opposed to a mate love)

Still nothing unusual, except I do not see any negative emojis.  Maybe that is an indication of how people felt in general.  That they were pretty happy with the way their personal life was going.

2021 top 10 emojis

  1. Tears of joy — πŸ˜‚ — (very very happy) — 5%of all emoji use
  2. Read heart — ❀️ — (love a person or love a comment) — Only emoji to get even close.
  3. Rolling on the Floor Laughing — 🀣 — (very funny or I made a joke)
  4. Thumbs Up Sign — πŸ‘ — (I agree with you or I approve of what you say or I received the message)
  5. Loudly Crying Face — 😭 — (very sad or very happy?)
  6. Folded Hands (aka the prayer emoji) — πŸ™ — (Thank you, please)
  7. Face Blowing a Kiss — 😘 — (still a virtual kiss)
  8. Smiling Face With Three Hearts — πŸ₯° — (still I love you)=
  9. Smiling Face with Heart-Shaped Eyes — 😍 — (still lovestruck, I am in love)
  10. Smiling Face with Smiling Eyes — 😊 — (I am happy)

In 2021, 100 emoji characters account for 82% of all emoji that are used.  Maybe people are not creative or maybe people just want to give a little emotion to their posts, to give color and personality, and most of all, to help clarify that somebody is trying to make a joke (so there is less misunderstanding).

What is the story that the data is not telling us?

Simple, Gen Z has decided to rename and reuse all of the most common emoji, so the whole entire purpose of using  emoji characters goes right out the window.

Common, easy to understand emoji characters, Gen Z has decided that they are “not cool”.  Here are some examples of craziness.

Giving the finger

Most of us are intelligent enough to know what the “giving the finger” symbol is, and in “polite conversation”, it is not considered appropriate.  Not to mention a bunch of other easy to understand symbols.

  • Middle finger — πŸ–• — common insult in the United States, so unless you really are trying to insult somebody, don’t use it.
  • Pile of poo (sh-t) — πŸ’© — it can mean exactly what the image describes, but sometimes people use it to say “I feel like Sh-t.”

Ones that used to be considered a good thing, but not Gen Z says that if you use them, you are insulting them, hurting their feelings, being a very bad person

  • Ok symbol — πŸ‘Œ — BLM says it means “White Power”, but only BLM and nobody else in the world thinks it as anything more than “Okay”.
  • Thumbs up — πŸ‘ — Gen Z now says that it looks too much like giving a person the middle finger, so if you use it, they again will say “you insulted”, “you hurt my feelings”, or “you are a very bad person”.  And you thought that you were trying to give them a compliment, and be a nice person.

Then there are the ones the Gen Z have decided that they must mean the complete opposite or what everybody else on the planet thinks they mean.

  • Loudly Crying Face — 😭 — It no longer means “very sad”.  Gen Z has decided that it now means “tears of joy”.
  • Skull face – πŸ’€ — Gen Z says it means “I am dying with laughter”


Around 15 years ago, I was talking with a person who was older (grandmother’s age), and we were talking about the way society was when she was a younger mother and the way that society was at that time.  People were making up societal rules that were outright garbage.  I will always remember what she said.

“People have too much time on their hands, because they are not working real jobs.  Instead of their brains being used for productive things, they are using their brains for stupid things.”

We were not talking about emoji characters.  We were talking about other stuff going on in society, but the underlying concept is the same.

What used to be viewed as a complement is now viewed as an insult.  What used to be considered to represent “sad”, now means “happy”.

People gave up the okay symbol πŸ‘Œ and changed to the thumbs up πŸ‘ , because it was “not worth the fight”.    But to now tell us that thumbs up πŸ‘ is equivalent to giving somebody the middle finger πŸ–•.  Well, I only have one thing to say … 🍽 πŸ’©  … bye bye Gen Z.