RED Hearts: The Art of the Emoji

emojisRED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. Today’s RED Hearts post is from RED author Zoe Mendelson, 22, in NYC who shows us the art of the emoji:

Texting is an unfortunately flat method of communication; it fails at transmitting tone. This is why emoticons are important. “Let me know what you're up to tonight.” and “Let me know what you're up to tonight :P” are completely different messages. The first could come off to a friend as needy or awkwardly bossy, or to someone you're dating as a bit overbearing, even. The second would require external circumstances to read like the first or be misinterpreted. So, I think in the beginning simple smileys served this purpose.

Then they became something of a cultural phenomenon. There was even a song about them (LOL :) by Trey Songz). By the time emoji came around, smileys had taken on an irony, an element of retro kitsch. Besides, their intended use as shortcuts to replace words seemed senseless. It would take a lot longer to sift through four precariously devised categories looking for a car than it would to type c-a-r.

So we started using emoji for fun, because they were so random.

But then something more fun happened: attempts at long-form emoji storytelling. People I text with and I either got very bored or were procrastinating very hard, and we realized the full creative potential of the little ones. We started to construct actual stories with them, in a form of modern hieroglyphics.

Here's one by my boyfriend (a clearly very serious law student) called “A Relationship”:

Then we started to animate song lyrics. Here's my best friend's rendering of "Survivor" by Destiny's Child:

And here's my Lolita in sixty seconds:

Challenge your friends. Take emoji to the next level. This is a medium a lot more intriguing than Instagram built right into your phone. And even when you hit a moment that calls for some serious emoji compromise or innovation -- like who plays Beyoncé? -- at least you don't have to cast her as : ).


RED Hearts guest poster Zoe Mendelson is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.