The rise and rise of emojis

The rise and rise of emojis

This article was first published on AdNews.

Last year was the year of the emoji, and it doesn’t look like 2016 is going to be any different.

We saw emojis replace words, and whole conversations being had with a few faces, and choice hand symbols. We saw Kim Kardashian release Kimoji which broke the Internet the Apple store rising straight to number one, and the ‘tears of joy’ emoji named word of the year despite technically not being a word.

Brands jumped on the emoticon bandwagon too. Ikea launched emoticons to ‘promote live and understanding at home’, Virgin Active released various squatting, running and jumping fitness emoji’s and Dove gave curly haired girls everywhere emojis they can relate to. Twitter was the primary platform for two emoji campaigns, The World Wildlife Fund using #EndangeredEmojis tweets to raise money and bring awareness, and Domino’s encouraging fans to tweet orders with a pizza emoji. Durex even began a condom emoji campaign for World Aids Day with a series of symbols representing safe sex and condom usage.

A big campaign was from Burger King who enlisted the help of new company Snaps, a platform for connecting advertisers with consumers across messaging applications and devices that specialises in branded emojis. Snaps also developed the Dove branded emojis. The company worked with 20 brands within the first three months of launching, an indication of the interest from advertising in branded visual languages.

Yahoo-owned analytics company Flurry reports mobile app usage rose by 57% in 2015, with personalised apps witnessing the biggest growth of 344%.

The study examined usage from 2014-2015 by recording sessions across various app categories, usage was logged each time a user opened an app.

According to Flurry, the majority of mobile phone usage growth is from Emoji apps because they give consumers the ability to customise conversations via messaging services and social media.

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Late last year Apple released its latest software update, which finally gave users the highly anticipated racially diverse emoji’s – and a taco emoji, because who doesn’t love a taco?

Apples update was followed by a range of pop culture emoji keyboard apps, including Seinfeld, SNL, SMS Rage Faces and Hipmoji. There was even a sexting start-up app that released a slew of vagina emojis called Flirtmoji. And don’t worry fellas, apparently there are still penis emojis to come.

Done well, emoji’s are the perfect medium to reach the coveted millennial market, and the aloof Generation Z to whom words seem to be overrated.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and with emojis being the next step in communication, brands are harnessing the power and putting mobile first in the digital world.

So not only can you converse using emojis, you can sext, brag about your workout, raise money for your organisation, or announce your baby’s birth Kimmy K style.

The possibilities are endless.

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I quit social media (for almost 2 weeks)

I quit social media (for almost 2 weeks)

When I decided to quit social media I thought it would be for good. Then I remembered I am a journalist who needs to live and breathe news and have my finger on the pulse of the entity that is the Internet.

I was sure I was going to change my life and break my addiction to my mobile.

Now, not so much.

I’ll be the first to admit, I need my phone. I need it just as much as I need to know the latest on Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian.

They say the average person looks at their phone 1500 times a day. If you work it out, that’s 90 minutes a day, 23 days a year and 3.9 years of your life. It’s beyond insane.

My decision to quit social media came after a discussion with a friend about how technology has changed everything that our parents once knew; dating, the way we communicate, or rather the way we don’t communicate. And the irony of documenting a night out with friends to portray it on Instagram as ‘the best night ever’, rather than actually enjoying the moment.

Personally, I find nothing more annoying than trying to have a conversation with someone who is looking at their phone. I am a firm believer that no one is more important than the person you are with.

It was only when I read an article about ‘phubbing’ (phone snubbing) ruining relationships that I realised I was a phubber in my own relationship. I also saw photos where the photographer removed the phone from the image to show how bazaar our addiction to our phones is. I decided then and there it was time to quit social media.

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Phubbing. By Eric Pickersgill
Everyone was doing it, Essena O’Neill I’m looking at you, so I thought I’d give it a go. How hard could it be?

Answer: hard.

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Essena quit social media (and then begged for her rent money)

On the first day, I found myself reaching for my phone when I sat down to eat my lunch, to take a quick snap for my friends. Or reaching for my phone at traffic lights – a habit that is just as much illegal as it is extremely sad.

I found myself with spare time, a foreign concept for someone used to filling every minute with news feeds and pretty Insta pictures. On my first day, I wrote not one, but two blogs. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that is very unusual for me.

I recently read an article that explained that boredom is the last privilege of a free mind. These days, when we are bored our first instinct is to pick up our smartphones, or engage with some sort of screen. But guess what, actually using your brain to think is the best antidote to boredom.

Without Facebook giving me the news I should be interested in, I actually had to search news pages for the latest events. An unfamiliar notion to me, the aspiring journalist. Ah, the irony.

We are the first generation that doesn’t need to search for our information; rather it is delivered to us via social media algorithms that determines what we should be interested in, then BAM it appears in our news feed. I am guilty of the morning scroll; waking up and reaching for my mobile is just as part of my morning routine as brushing my teeth.

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Soul sucking screens
On day two, I picked up my smartphone, fingers hovering over the place my Facebook icon once sat. But instead, I put my phone down and just thought. For a technology dependent Gen Y, it is a weird process. No screens, no distractions, just me and my brain.

After the first week I was cured of FOMO. Research recently found that Facebook is as addictive as poker machines, with FOMO being the cause. I’ve never liked gambling, but this was something I can relate too. Without Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook I was able to work a whole weekend without being reminded what I was missing out on. My wallet was very thankful.

Day ten, I caved. Yes I was aiming for two weeks, but I am proud of my ten days disconnected.

I realise now that social media isn’t the problem, the way I interact with it is the problem. The compulsive checking had become a burden to my life (and my data) instead of a way to keep in touch with my friends. Like anyone, I want to live a present life which means not obsessing on how other people are living theirs.

It’s definitely a work in progress. Quitting (or at least decreasing) social media is much easier said than done. But I’m trying and I hope that by me making a concious effort to put my phone away, it will make others do the same. Because nothing is more important than the people you are with and the moment you are in. 

10 things I learnt when traveling with my Nanna

This year I was lucky enough to be taken on an amazing trip around Canada and Alaska for 3 weeks with my Nanna and my Mum. This is what I learnt.

  1. As I’ve grown older I feel an overwhelming desire and responsibility to protect my Nanna as she protected me when I was a child. My Nan is 84 years old, hits the gym 3 times a week and showed everyone how zip-lining was done through Whistler’s mountains, but I still found myself watching her step and reaching for her hand as she unloaded the coach. Although, no matter what my age a hug from my Nanna will always take me back to the time my hand fit nearly onto her soft palm, and her rosy perfume clung to my blonde curls.
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Nan and I (1996)
  1. I learnt that traveling with me keeps my Nan young. From taking her on ghost tours through the rumoured haunted hotel, to doing the chicken dance with her in an empty ballroom, I have her giggling “like a school girl.” I can safely say she knows who Beyoncé is because of me.
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Nan, 84, zip-lining in Whistler. With grace, of course.
  1. Family secrets and past lives are revealed. I always pictured my Nan as only the angelic, English woman who fed me boiled sweets and taught me tricks on the trampoline, until I read her life story a few months ago. Her stories shocked me, as I was yet to even hear a swear word pass her lipsticked lips.

She was a woman before her time – well educated and ambitious. As I urged her to tell me tales of her life on our trip, she revealed nights of dancing with “fetching” Denmark men, how she fell in love with my Grandpa, and how she fell out of love with him. As we strolled through the trails of Banff, arms linked and breathing in the scent of pine, I questioned her on experiences of the war and an abusive older brother. These are moments I will treasure forever, and stories that your own grandparents are desperate to tell you if you take the time to listen (and throw in a glass of wine, or two).

A few glasses of wine on the Rocky Mountaineer, and all the secrets came flowing out.
A few glasses of wine on the Rocky Mountaineer, and all the secrets came flowing out.
  1. You learn who your grandparents were before they were just your grandparents. They have had amazing lives and careers that most of us are completely unaware of. My Nan grew up in a time that I have only seen featured in films, under threat of bombing, and when love letters were delivered into a letterbox not an inbox. She was clever, cheeky and classy. A dancer, a singer, and a thrill-seeker. She worked with the deaf and the blind, and was a pioneer in her field at a time when women were only just beginning to infiltrate male-dominated work places.
  1. And she is that same young girl. Just with a pension and sun spots. She has been known to still crash Bollywood weddings in Banff.
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Riding the gondola over Whistler.
  1. They get to really know you. For the first time my Nan saw me tipsy (and on cold and flu medication) and kept gasping at how she had never been me so “silly”, as I tried to teach her how to dance to Single Ladies. They see you, flaws and all – the flaws you are usually able to hide at family get togethers.
  1. It is hard to watch someone you love get older. As a kid I struggled to keep up with my active Nan, as she took me bush walking behind her house, on a search for blue tongue lizards. But now, I have to slow my step to walk at her pace. It can be frustrating, and it is scary to consider their mortality. But even though my Nan’s hearing has deteriorated, her heart remains young. And she will out dance you any night of the week.
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Our love for champagne must be hereditary.
  1. I learnt that there is a much larger generational gap between my Mum and my Nan, than my Mum and I, that didn’t allow them to have the same close relationship that my own Mum and I have. Things were different back then, and parents weren’t allowed to be your friend. Today, we are much more honest. I am probably a bit too honest for my Nan’s liking, but at least we can be real.
Three generations take Canada and Alaska.
Three generations take Canada and Alaska.
  1. It may be cliché, but grandparents really do hold an immensity of wisdom that can only be learnt over a lifetime. My Nan knows she has made mistakes; in her marriage, in her parenting, in her single life. Over Baileys and a decadent brownie Nan told me all the problems in her marriage could have been resolved if they had of had maturity. She also said to travel young, always wear layers, and pack a pair of fresh knickers in your backpack.
  1. You will create new memories. Traveling for 22 days through two countries, 6 hotels, and countless cities will always be time I will cherish. I know not many people can say they get that opportunity, and I hope I took every chance to hear her stories, hold her soft hand and try to piece together her life in an era I only learnt about in school.
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Nan’s hugs are the best. No matter what age.

You are never too old to become younger” – Mae West

What Ever Happened to Girl Code?

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In the 10 years that have passed since Gretchen Wiener spieled the famous one liner, “Ex-boyfriends are just off limits to friends. I mean, that’s just, like, the rules of feminism”, it seems women have forgotten the simple rules of feminism.

Like that of Lindsay Lohan’s acting career, the days where ex-boyfriends or even current boyfriends are deemed off limits are over. Instead, our set of unspoken rules has been erased and replaced by a new breed of opportunistic and sexually aggressive women. Thanks to that little thing called social media (yes Snapchat I’m looking at you) temptation is literally within hand’s reach – or should I say fingertips. It is inevitable that our partners are going to stumble across a few ‘tanning’ selfies in which breasts are the intentional focus of the photo and we’ve come to terms with that. After all, it’s the 2014 world we live in. But what I cannot come to terms with, what still blows my somewhat open mind is women considering men in relationships fair game.

Look at Cat and Lawson from Big Brother. Their controversial romance has played out for the whole of Australia to see over the past few weeks; including Lawson’s long-term girlfriend. I won’t even try to imagine how it would feel to watch your boyfriend making out with another woman on national television. I think a fellow Big Brother contestant summed it up when he said, “If I was Lawson’s girlfriend, I’d be barging through these double doors and dragging him out of the house.”

Cat was fully aware that Lawson had a girlfriend. He even said multiple times, “I have a girlfriend.” Leading up to their big kiss in the bathtub, his hesitance towards her feelings for him were obvious but she kept on with the neck massages and unnecessary ‘friendship’ hugs. Now they engage in not so subtle, underneath the doona activities – Geordie Shore style.

She knew what she wanted and whilst she put on a good act initially of respecting their relationship, it was her active pursuit of Lawson that ultimately led to his infidelity. Which has me questioning, what ever happened to girl code?

Sadly you don’t need to be on a reality show for infidelity to be a reality. I’m sure most women can relate to what Lawson’s girlfriend is going through; the shame, the embarrassment, the questioning of your own self worth… I know I can, thanks to the actions of a certain ‘friend’ of mine a few years ago.

We were young, too young for it to truly matter. But she was my friend. I still see this person engaging in questionable behaviour with ex boyfriends and more importantly current boyfriends. The fact that she never learnt from the pain she caused me, not to mention the demise of our friendship, makes the betrayal still somewhat real – in the ability to trust my partner, but more so in the inability for me to trust any female. Especially the ones that ‘Like’ my boyfriend’s Instagram photos.

It is always easier to blame the female. I’ve done it. The matter of the fact is that any guy that engages in infidelity is just as guilty as the woman he cheated with. But to quote Chris Rock, which I promise to never do again, “A man is only as faithful as his options.” So if his options are a constant stream of willing women, how many do you think it would take before your partner started to consider this whole commitment thing?

We are our own worst enemies. Opportunistic women are not only ruining relationships, but they are changing the workings of society. What chance does commitment truly have when it is being tested at every late night text message or slutty Snapchat? Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

This is why we need a universal girl code like that of our male counterparts ‘bros before hoes’. To be reminded of the rules of feminism but also to empower each other’s relationships instead of snaking in the shadows hoping for its break down. Because at the end of the day, if you’re willing to break up someone’s relationship, who says someone won’t be willing to do the same to you?

If Carrie Bradshaw can realise the harm she caused through her affair with a very married Mr Big, surely women today can follow in her Manolo Blahnik footsteps.

It’s simple. If he’s someone else’s, he’s not yours. If he has history with someone you care about, he has no future with you. Please remember this ladies next time you’ve had four glasses of Sav and are feeling a little lonely.

P.S Karma is bitchier than the girl whose boyfriend you stole