Full list of Facebook Emojis: https://emojipedia.org/facebook/
Let’s talk emojis.
When I talk to neurotypical people about how they support autistic people in their school/workplace, something that quite often comes up is, “oh, I’m going to use emojis as a visual representation of emotions!”
However, when I talk to autistic people, they often don’t “get” emojis or the contexts in which they are used. There aren’t just faces for the “basic” emotions anymore; there are 3,136 emojis on Facebook, and an estimated 5 billion emojis used daily on Facebook and Messenger alone. The ways emojis are used differ between different social groups and contexts. Emojis are a visual language, used alongside written language to display emotion, “vibe”, and meaning.
We have some universal basic emotional states, each with a distinct facial expression. Here, “universal” means that throughout the world, in every culture, these emotions and facial expressions are used and recognised, regardless of the verbal lanuage spoken. “Basic” here means that these emotional states can be combined with other emotions to form more complex emotions, but that they cannot be broken down themselves; they are the “building blocks” for complex emotion. Eckman established six basic emotional states: anger, contempt, disgust, enjoyment, fear, sadness, and surprise. So if we all recognise only six basic emotional states, why on earth are there so many emojis?!
Well, we experience these basic emotional states on a spectrum, as well as experiencing more complex emotions! Emojis can help us to communicate complex emotional states which are less easily expressed through written language.
So lets start to break some down.
The reaction emojis allow you to show your reaction to a post. These are pretty straightforward, and let you show some basic emotions about the post. They are the traditional “like”, and additionally, represent “love”, “laughter”, “happiness”, “shock”, “sadness”, and “anger”. During Covid, the “care” react was added, allowing people to express care and solidarity in these times.
Emojis: row 1
The top row of emojis show varying degrees of happiness. The emoji on the left is a mouth only smile with the eyes open, while the emoji in the centre and on the right show a duchenne smile, which involves the eye muscles.
The bottom two emojis have rosy cheeks. This generally shows genuine warmth and affection.
These emojis are good to use to show that you are happy about something, or to “soften” the tone of a message, e.g. “meet me at six.” can be interpreted as a lot more serious than “meet me at six. 😃” (see below).
These emojis are displaying varying degrees of hilarity through their laughter. The bottom two having tears in their eyes because they are laughing so hard. The bottom emoji is tilted slightly, to indicate that one is “rolling on the floor laughing” (ROFL).
This emoji looks similar to the laughing emojis, and it is placed near them on the keyboard. However, it tends to be used in a slightly different context. This emoji has a bead of sweat on its forehead, and combined with the smile, represents a feeling of relief or amused uncertainty.
“Intended to depict nerves or discomfort but commonly used to express a close call, as if saying Whew! and wiping sweat from the forehead. ” – Emojipedia
Emojis: row 2
This happy chap is your basic smile! He can be used pretty much whenever you like (although if you are sharing bad news you may not want to use him!). He shows that you are happy, and that the tone of your message is friendly. Even though he is simple, he is a very good emoji to be using to set a friendly tone for a message.
This is my personal favourite emoji. He does not seem to represent any basic emotion; this is certainly not a face that one can make! However, sometimes I really feel like this emoji.
“Commonly used to convey irony, sarcasm, joking, or a sense of goofiness or silliness. Its intent can be similar to the bemused Oh well! of🤷Person Shrugging or the shruggie emoticon, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.” – Emojipedia
I use this emoji as a bemused Oh well! Sometimes life is crazy, and starts to get on top of me, and there is nothing I can control and I simply have to go with the flow! These times are when I feel like 🙃🙃🙃.
This is a wink. Think of those people who wink all the time – it’s like a cheeky little signal. Sometimes it shows that the mood is happy and fun. Sometimes, it is flirtatious. Sometimes, it shows that there is something more to what is being said. Sometimes, it can show that what is being said is ironic or sarcastic. This depends on what is being said alongside the emoji. If you’re not sure why someone has used a wink face, it is okay to ask!
“May signal a joke, flirtation, hidden meaning, or general positivity. Tone varies, including playful, affectionate, suggestive, or ironic.” – Emojipedia
This is a rosy cheeked smiley face, like above, but this one has a halo, like an angel. It can be used to represent innocence or angelic behaviour.
Love hearts are bubbling off this guy! He is generally used to show affection and love. It doesn’t have to mean “in love” – I use this emoji talking to family, to friends, about pets, about ideas I like, about things I’m looking forward to. Basically, if it makes me feel the need to stim with my hands because of all the love feelings (gotta shake em out!), then I use this emoji to describe that feeling.
Emojis: row 3
This emoji shows that you love something! It’s different to the one above in that it’s more often used for something you are looking at, that you love to see or experience. For example, if a friend sends you a selfie, you might respond “😍😍😍” to show that you love them, love their look, and love that they’re sharing selfies with you.
“Often conveys enthusiastic feelings of love, infatuation, and adoration, e.g., I love/am in love with this person or thing.” – Emojipedia
🤩 Starry eyed means to be sort of overwhelmed with excitement/joy at seeing something or someone you really like. You become starry eyed if you met your role model in an Asda. It can be used to show that you’re feeling really excited, amazed, or fascinated.
These emojis are all varients on blowing a kiss. They can be used to show love and affection, or to say goodbye.
The two emojis on the right are sometimes paired with a musical note to show whistling.
“This emoji is sometimes taken to represent whistling. May convey such feelings as surprise, admiration, contempt, or feigned innocence, as a person casually whistling after wrongdoing saying, Nothing to look at here.” – Emojipedia
So, here we’ve covered the first three rows of emojis, the emotion they represent, and the ways they are used. Of course, they are used in a much more fluid and dynamic way than I can possibly represent here! But hopefully this will help somewhat when it comes to figuring out using emojis. 😁🥰