The use of emojis tend to reflect what people are feeling and what’s currently stressing them out at any given moment.
Stressful moments in history are reflected in the digital world, with the coronavirus being no exception. What’s a better representation of digital expression than the use of emojis?
Facemoji, an emoji keyboard available for download on the Android Play Store, analyzed the use of emojis and words over the past four months, capturing people’s reactions before the outbreak and in the midst of it.
“The chosen time period reflects usage before the outbreak started (November-December 2019), as well as data after the outbreak began spreading more rapidly (January-February 2020),” explained a representative in an email to The Fresh Toast.
Stats show that during the end of January, there was a sharp increase in the use of the word “virus.” This moment coincides when the WHO announced that the coronavirus was a worldwide threat and the US banned flights from China. Around this time, people also started to use the face mask emoji more regularly. Another emoji that’s been progressively more and more utilized is the sneezing emoji.
Emojipedia, a website dedicated to looking into emoji news and updates, also showed that people have been using more “sick” emojis, including the face mask and the bacteria emoji.
📃 Analysis of the following emojis finds tweets with 😷 or 🦠 most likely to be about COVID-19 / Coronavirus https://t.co/CJTC7qrjma
😷 Medical Mask
🧽 Sponge pic.twitter.com/t7sFkwSuBr
— Emoji-social-distancing-pedia 🧍🌳🏡🧍 (@Emojipedia) March 11, 2020
“We found a significant proportion of tweets featuring the Microbe and the Face With Medical Mask were indeed related to the coronavirus – 42 percent and 36 percent respectively,” behavioral scientist Keith Broni told Mashable.
Another emoji that’s being used when talking about the coronavirus is the crying/laughing emoji, which suggests people are scared, awkward, but also humorous on the face of a pandemic. The increasing use of coronavirus memes and Tik Toks also show that even in the midst of a freak out, we still have to laugh.