Do you sometimes feel like an emoji is the only way to perfectly embody the message, or the face, you are trying to convey?
It’s no secret that emojis are changing the way we communicate. They don’t just appear on our phones, either. Popularized emojis are iconic, appearing on clothing, in advertisements, and other outlets. They allow for a creation of meaning and personalization, as a readily accessible tool with which to join a dialogue.
Marla Shaivitz, a communication specialist at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Jeff Chertack, a malaria expert with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are appealing to the Unicode Consortium–an organizing body that approves characters an emojis for standardized usage–to consider adding a female mosquito to the list of emojis that will be added to smartphones next year. Apparently, the mosquito is among a list of 67 finalists that will be further considered.
Anticipated uses of the emoji include pairing the image with other symbols–a rain cloud, for instance, to encourage people to stay dry indoors and to encourage insecticide application–or to indicate that eradication efforts are under progress. As mosquitoes are key in infectious disease transmission (for viruses including dengue, Zika, malaria, and yellow fever), a recognizable symbol might encourage more dialogue about preventative behaviors or information-seeking behaviors.
Shaivitz and Chertack make their case by estimating seven times more usage of the mosquito emoji than of the beetle emoji on Twitter. In fact, they claim there is a pretty high demand for it.
When you think about the truly random emojis that do exist, it would seem far-fetched not to include one that has the potential to actually make a positive change. Time will tell if Unicode bites.