#PRFAIL: No Guns, Just Roses – Emojis and the U.C.

Emoji's Article

If there’s one thing you’ve gotta get used to in this world, it’s change. Just think about the breakneck pace of technology, seeming to advance exponentially faster every decade or so.

But at least we still have the alphabet!

Or do we?

For who knows how long now, we’ve communicated with the same set of 26 letters and handful of punctuation marks – our vocabulary changes, but the symbols we use to put it together don’t.

Imagine what would happen if they did – and if there was some single, capricious governing body assigned to regulate the “letters” that people can and can’t use.

Welp, that’s exactly what’s happening with emojis.

We use emojis so often now that they might as well be part of the alphabet – how often do you use them when you send someone a text? And we’re seeing them all the time even in marketing email subject lines.

Year after year, the “Unicode Consortium” give us the verdict on what “new” emojis are going to be added to platform lexicons – from Apple’s iOS to Facebook to Gmail to Samsung. This year – 2019 – we’re adding a whole host of emojis that one might consider “politically correct.”

We’re getting some disabled folks, adding to ever-increasing skin color options, and emojis showing people/couples that don’t identify with any particular recognized gender. Plus a skunk, an otter, and a whole other collection of random animals and objects, in case you had been dying to send someone an icon of a rickshaw or banjo.1

The #PRFAIL here is our lack of options in choosing, well, our plethora of emoji options. Not everyone wants the option to send people images of what’s currently “politically correct.” And this same Unicode Consortium that sets the emoji agenda for everyone using all of these common platforms has also been known to bow to political pressure in taking emojis away.

For example, our former “gun” or “revolver” emoji is now a water pistol, after gun control demonstrations put pressure on the Unicode Consortium to delete this contentious symbol2 (plans for an Olympic rifle emoji were also scrapped).3

However, it has to be noted that we still have a knife, chains, swords, a bomb… and a lit cigarette. Tobacco’s gotta be up there in terms of the unpopular zone. But no one’s gotten the U.C. to axe that one… yet.

My point is, this creative and impactful addition to our current methods of communication shouldn’t have to be politicized.

And if we’re not happy with the Unicode Consortium’s “alphabet,” is there another place we can turn?


  1. Burge, Jeremy. “230 New Emojis in Final List for 2019.” Emojipedia, Emojipedia, 5 Feb. 2019, blog.emojipedia.org/230-new-emojis-in-final-list-for-2019/.
  2. “Gun Emoji Replaced with Toy Water Pistol across Platforms.” ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 29 Apr. 2018, www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-29/gun-emoji-replaced-with-toy-water-pistol-across-platforms/9708406.
  3. “Why You Won’t See a Rifle Emoji Anytime Soon.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, money.cnn.com/2016/06/17/technology/rifle-emoji/?iid=EL.

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