It’s World Emoji Day today, Friday July 17th, and we’re celebrating the wonderful and unique language that is the emoji. Usage on Twitter of these colourful little icons is a visual reflection of what people are talking about, in ?? and around the world. This year people have flocked to digital channels to stay connected throughout lockdown, and emoji trends have reflected what’s been happening.

Featured image: Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

While smiley emojis continue to dominate the top 10, there were some big moves:

  • Twitter usage of the worried face emoji grew by 415% year over year, rising from #16 to #3 on this year’s list
  • Twitter usage of the fire emoji grew by 290% year over year, rising from #28 to #7 on this year’s list
  • Twitter usage of the smiling face with hearts emoji grew by 119% year over year, rising from #14 to #8 on this year’s list

COVID-19 and Emojis

Twitter became an essential source of community, inspiration and information while people stayed at home. The most used emojis around the COVID-19 conversation were reflective of people’s experiences under lockdown: staying at home, managing their anxiety and sending their support to frontline workers both virtually and by applauding from their front lawns, driveways, balconies and rooftops. Who even knew there was a germ emoji?!

The prevalence of COVID-19 as a global topic this shows in emoji usage trends for 2020: Who can forget when the shelves were cleared of bread; and we’ve all been reminded to wear our masks . As travel plans went by the wayside, events were cancelled and we forgot what it was like to get a haircut, so too did the usage of emojis reflecting them.

So, while we’ve all been through a lot these past few months, these challenging times have also made us grateful for the good things in our lives, as well as the people on the frontlines – from medical workers, grocery store clerks, sanitation workers and all of their loved ones. The use of the ‘thank you’ emoji saw an 89% increase from 2019 to 2020.

To give back and highlight the millions of Tweets expressing gratitude, Twitter launched an emoji, activated by using #thankful and #grateful. Other special emojis recently launched on Twitter include  #WashYourHands and #StayHome , developed in partnership with the WHO and used around the world.

In Ireland these emojis were used to express the wide array of emotions we’ve felt throughout this time:

The incredible staff at Antrim Hospital performed a hilarious dance to remind people to #WashYourHands:

People expressed how #thankful they were for the Irish people’s amazing response to helping the HSE.

Twitter was a safe space to experience the highs and lows of #StayHome:

While hockey star Nicci Daly showed us how she kept busy during #StayHome:

Working from home with kids was an endless source of entertainment (and chaos):

And finally, the Normal People craze got two emojis, including one honouring the phenomenon that was Connell’s chain: