Everyday thousands of text messages are sent to and from college students. Texting has become a pivotal part of who we, as millennials, are. Instead of walking up to your friend’s house to ring the doorbell, you text them to ask to be let in. Instead of going downstairs to see if there is anything in the fridge to eat, (for those of you who live at home) you text your mom and ask her. For better or for worse texting seems as though it’s here to stay. In these text messages sent you may find one or two particularly interesting characters. Whether it be a smiley face, a heart or a winky face, emoji’s have become a staple of text messaging.

Emoji’s were invented in 1998 by Shigetaka Kurita. The original emoji was created as a way to appeal to teenagers in Japan who were rapidly buying and using pagers to communicate. The first emoji was a simple heart and was used to show affection and to spice up the otherwise boring pager display of numbers and letters.

It’s obvious that Shigetaka was not the smartest man in the world, purely because he thought that pagers would still be a thing in twenty years. Though he did stumble upon something truly amazing that an entire generation uses to communicate their feelings, thoughts, and motives using a simple arrangement of pixels.

I use emoji’s daily. Though I don’t like to admit it, I no longer use the symbols ironically. My most used emoji is hands down the heart (<3). The only person that I text every day is my wife, and believe it or not I <3 her very much. So it’s only fitting that I spam the cute heart periodically throughout the day to let her know how much I care. This obviously can never take the place of me actually saying it to her, but I’m not with her 24/7 to whisper sweet nothings into her ear, so the emoji will have to do for now.

I also use emoji’s when texting my friends. While sometimes I will tell them that I love them and send them a heart, this is not as frequent as it is with my wife. Overtime, my friends and I have developed our own emoji language. An emoji at the beginning or at the end of a sentence can completely alter its meaning. This is most commonly done by the use of an emoji to signify that a message is to be interpreted as sarcasm. This saves us a lot of fights and hurt feelings. I have found, though, that our emoji language is not universal.

There are hundreds of emoji’s and while they mean something specific to me, they mean something different to the public at large. It feels only fair that I learn what the emoji’s intended use is, so as to not confuse anyone that I may text in the future. This will make my personal life easier when humanity only uses emoji’s to communicate in thirty years. So, I invite you to visit the Gannon Edge site weekly and read my blog posts where I ramble about emoji’s and share half amusing anecdotes.