I know my most used emoji at the beginning of the Covid19 was a face mask, but now it is the praying hands.
The new normal of social-distancing has further accelerated patterns of virtual communication. And as our world has changed due to COVID-19, new ways of deploying emojis have sprung up in response.
Many of us are understandably feeling pretty anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19), as the world battles a global health challenge with little idea of what lies ahead.
Emojipedia has a list of Coronavirus related emojis.
The backdrop of COVID 19 caused an uptick in the usage of syringe emoji, according to Emojipedia, an online emoji dictionary.
Apple has altered its syringe emoji with the rollout of iOS 14.5 update. The change has reportedly been brought about to encourage the conversation around COVID 19 vaccine and to increase its uptake.
“This makes the emoji more versatile when used to describe Covid-19 vaccination,” explained Emojipedia, a site that catalogues the icons.
The site reports a surge in the use of the syringe emoji last year to talk about the Covid vaccine.
Combinations of Emojis
There is also evidence of combinations of emojis being deployed. For instance, Spanish speakers have created an emoji compound for coronavirus using the crown and microbe emojis, as corona is the Spanish word for crown.
This ingenious use of the crown emoji is not just an example of human creative smarts. It also illustrates an ancient and well-worn principle in the formation of visual representation.
Communicating of Fears
But why are emojis an apt way of communicating our fears, advice on hygiene, and even reminders on social distancing protocols in a time of crisis? Digital communication, even in written form, is inherently visual, and we are fundamentally visual creatures—it’s our dominant sense.
Around two-thirds of the brain’s neural activity relates to vision (when our eyes are open). Around 40% of the brain’s nerve fibres are connected to the retina. And it takes an adult human just 100 milliseconds to recognise an object.
An emoji provides an instantly recognisable visual icon, that represents a relatively complex idea, one which can sometimes be conveyed more quickly and effectively than in words.
More generally, emojis enhances language-based digital communication, much as gesture and body language do in offline, face-to-face spoken interaction. And this is as true when communicating using emojis in the COVID-19 pandemic as at any other time.