How emojis represent the past, present and future within Next Nature

Britta de Vries
March 5th 2020

It's that time of year again; the Unicode Emoji 13.0 has announced that 117 new emojis are to be implemented in the second half of 2020. It got us curious of what these new emojis may say about a lived experience in our technological environment — our next nature.

The past: Tools

Throughout the years technology has come far and has helped us design our tools and next natural habitats, such as a hut to live. Stone tools became primitive extentions of our bodies and the basis of man's development.

The usage of such emojis in daily messaging brings with it the question: when would someone use this emoji? Perhaps, you could use the hut when communicating that you are going on a digital detox; this emoji demonstrates how modern technologies return us to the tribe.

The present: Animals

A second subgroup that is observable are the emojis of animals. Some of these animals are extinct and are brought back to life via virtual technology - in the shape of emojis. These emojis allow us to remember the existence of these animals and to conserve the past.

However, these emojis also allow us to reflect upon the present. For instance, with new technological developments surrounding the Frozen Zoo and the ability of cell manipulation these now extinct animals may be brought back to life in the future. However, not only extinct animals can be brought back to life with this technology but also animals that are endangered by climate change, such as the polar bear, can in the future be resurrected.

When someone mentions they are still using Facebook the mammoth can be used to communicate their prehistoric choice of social medium. After all, TikTok is the hot stuff now, right?

The future: Gender-inclusivity

Noticeable within the emojis of Unicode 13.0 are the non-gender representations. This correlates closely to the new options technology provides us such as an artificial womb for the creation of a family. One of the projects here at Next Nature, Reprodutopia, brings to question exactly these kinds of new options afforded by technology.

Therefore, we here at Next Nature therefore hope to see people use this emoji in correlation with non-gender reproduction. Welcome to Reprodutopia!

Embracing the unknown

Finally, a fun take-away from analysing these emojis was the emoji called ‘people hugging’ which showed two blobs instead of people. Perhaps what the Unicode is trying to communicate with this is that they not only embrace people but also other species, such as robots. Perhaps this will encourage the robots to be embraced by our communicative tools as well in the near future. We can't wait for it...

What do you think of new emojis? πŸ€”public: 1

1 comment

Van Mensvoort
Posted 18/03/2020 – 08:29

Lovely article! Emoji is a 21st century Esperanto that actually functions as a World language.

What is your view on the coronavirus?


Koert van Mensvoort: The virus makes us aware of other lifeforms with other perspectives, desires and needs. It also teaches us that we are one humanity. These viral invaders don’t discriminate on the basis of nationality, race, income, social status, political or sexual preference. We are together and must work together to overcome. Stay safe.

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