It may come as a surprise to my friends and acquaintances that yes, I actually do use that branch of Unicode characters called “emoticons” (mostly correct) or “emoji” (mostly correct) or “emojis” (which is definitely incorrect). OK, I don’t send them that much, but I use them and experiment with them. And this leaves one huge annoying question: There are grins galore and a couple of blushes. There’s that grimace that was supposed to be a grin. There’s even a “Slightly Smiling Face” that is as close to a real normal smile as you can get. But what happened to the generic regular smile?
As a matter of fact, there is a Unicode character for a generic smiley, U+263A, which was originally a black-and-white drawing on a plain text interface, before emoji. It’s still there.
But some device company “tried to enhance” the emoji, to put it lightly, and every major company has followed suit, most recently Google in 2017. The emoji now looks like this:
According to Emojipedia, this face has “A modest smile, rosy cheeks and soft, closed eyes.” But “rosy cheeks” is not something that happens in an actual normal smile. It is a way to soften the fact that it is blushing. (And on top of that Facebook’s emoji looks like it’s using tons of mascara.)
This is so bad that most platforms with emoji shortcuts, Google Hangouts included, redirect : – ) to the “Slightly Smiling Face” emoji, U+1F642. For a generic smiling face, it’s OK for the moment, and there are situations where you might want to use it, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Slack chose to add an old-fashioned normal smiley to its custom emoji set, under the name “Simple Smile.”
So how will we get the ☺️ abomination out of the way for everyone else? Simple solution: add one more Unicode character for it, for people who want to say that they are blushing, and make the U+263A “White Smiling Face” emoji a real smile.