Back off! ✋ We’ll use our emojis however we want

There are more than 3,000 emojis, and there’s no one way to use these little digital icons.

You see, emoji isn’t a language. And Unicode Consortium, the organization that globally standardizes every character no matter the platform, isn’t trying to make it one.

So today, on World Emoji Day, tell those emoji elitists to back off. You can use that 🦄 however you want.

Here are a few examples with some emojiology analysis from Emojipedia:

The upside-down face 🙃

It’s the emoji that commonly is used to express silliness. But it’s also used to show distress, frustration and sarcasm. So you’re smiling about whatever is going on in your ordinary life… just upside-down.

Example 1: Guess who just forgot to add milk to her cereal this morning? 🙃

Example 2: My friend’s 3-year-old just spilled juice all over my new blouse. 🙃

Example 3: No, it’s fine. Everything is fine. 🙃

The folded hands 🙏

These two hands pressed together in the skin tone of your choosing look like they’re intended to symbolize prayer. Not religious? Don’t you fret. Some people use it more freely to show praise and respect. So this emoji can be for you, too.

Example 1: I’m going to 🙏 on it, and hope this stain comes out.

Example 2: My friend said she’ll pay for my new blouse her 3-year-old just spilled juice all over to get dry cleaned. 🙏

Example 3: I’m so glad she took responsibility for her child’s actions. 🙏

The eyes 👀

Perhaps this pair of eyes looking to the left is used to indicate that you’re looking at something. Or maybe it’s a way to express doubt or deceitfulness. Another option is signaling the approval of how something looks. (The options are piling up. It’s OK. Options can be our friends.)

Example 1: I’m 👀 for a new fashion style to try.

Example 2: Oh yes, best friend, I see you in those new shoes. 👀

Example 3: Are you sure you want to pay that hefty price for those shoes though? 👀

Fire 🔥

There’s the literal use of fire to express heat and an actual bundle of flames. But emoji users also have become avid lovers of using this emoji for metaphors, such as describing someone’s behavior or showing approval of something. Now things are getting heated.

Example 1: It was so cold, so we started a little 🔥 to keep us warm.

Example 2: You should’ve seen how upset dad was when he realized he didn’t pack his jacket. He was 🔥 🔥 🔥

Example 3: Did you take that photo? Oh that’s 🔥

Crying — and lots of them 😢 😭 😂

There is the crying face emoji 😢, which frequently is used to show some sadness. But what about the loudly crying emoji 😭, you ask? Oof, that’s a never-ending debate. Some argue it’s meant for laughter, not condolence tears. Let’s not forget the tears of joy emoji 😂 that also gets used for self-deprecating laughter.

Example 1: I left my wallet at home today. 😢

Example 2: How am I going to pay for lunch now? 😭

Example 3: It’s OK. We’ll starve together. Apparently, there was a nice big hole in my now empty wallet. 😂

I don’t want to mess up! How do I know which one to use?

It’s simple. Go with your 💗

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