Ah, emojis. An incredibly useful remote communication tool. But – I’m pretty sure that system emojis are the perfect symbol for the age of hyper-corporatized Web 2.0:
✅ They’re made, owned, and distributed by mega corporations
✅ For some reason you can buy stuffed versions at Walmart
✅ Anyone can yield them in their textual contributions to the Net
You might’ve noticed I said system emojis, not all emojis ever. There’s a distinction, and as a complete amateur linguist, I think this distinction leads to some interesting iykyk consequences. This essay explores the hypothesis that the ability to use custom emojis in cozy web spaces leads to a greater sense of unity and group membership.
System emojis vs. custom emojis
System emojis are the emojis that come with your phone or your app (i.e. built into the system you’re using). Everyone has access to these
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- Custom emoji within cozy web groups like Slack and Discord contribute to a sense of unity and group membership, resulting in tighter bonds between participants
- Visual consistency across platforms contributes to this
- Custom emoji as a unique linguistic tool that can only be used within smaller communities
- Constraints and affordances of custom emoji, compared to normal emoji
- Markers of group membership, in-joke understanding
- If normal emoji are peak hyper-corporatized Web 2.0, custom emoji are peak domestic cozy web