Emoji Major No. 14: Twitter, Gone Public…And All-Emoji

It’s EMOJI TWITTER time! This week, Zoe Mendelson translates 140 characters into emoji characters.

As if it weren’t already this decade’s definition of public, last week Twitter made it official–financial, not just cultural. By most accounts, the IPO proved less of a fiasco than Facebook’s but was still only mildly successful.


Here at Emoji Major, I don’t much care to know the opening, closing, soaring, or stagnant prices of Twitter shares anyway. The exciting fact for my purposes is merely that Twitter is in the news. That means I have an excuse to EMOJI TWITTER FEEDS! Cue the evil laughter.

Aaaha, I really do relish the absurdity in a game of communicating via the two media most often blamed for the kids-today End of Communication. No frontier is too broad or nonsensical for my inane little friends.
Emojifying the Twitter feeds of figureheads is like seeing the world if emoji were the only language we all know–and we all know that’s what I dream of. So I mined a selection of feeds for tweet treats and translated them into tiny cartoons. Presenting the further reduction of society’s most reductive medium, from 140 characters down to far fewer ones (and mostly of the shiny yellow-with-faces kind).
I tried to sample broadly: one politician, two religious figures (I like this because the spiritual category is so un-Twitter-like to begin with), an astrophysicist, one comedian, three musicians, and Oprah. Seven of the nine are in the Twitter top 100. No way was I going to rule out Cher (1.88 million) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (1.51 million) on numbers alone though. I can’t stress enough how much they deserve spots on that list.
For each feed I picked three tweets from the past few weeks. Most striking is the medium’s utter lack of hierarchy. Twitter can work as a bizarre news prism, refracting the largest, most tragic events–the devastation in Haiyan–to the most ridiculous and mundane. Thousands of deaths pretty much get the same treatment as Justin Bieber’s bout of food poisoning in Argentina, the EMAs, the Twitter IPO, Ellen hiding in a cupboard to scare Portia as a Halloween prank, and a shower Miley Cyrus took.

No news is broken on Twitter in a larger typeface than the next. The priority and immediacy stays the same–just like in emojiland. Where the Dalai Lama and the Biebs live on the same tweet plane, so in emoji do the shower, the hurricane, Halloween, and poop.

But tweets do vary in tone, and I was curious to see how, or if at all, this differentiation would translate into emoji.
So in the Emoji Major lab this week, we test for tone. Can emoji communicate the subtlety of a personality, the nuance of a message already filtered and reduced through Twitter? See the slides above, and consider them an emoji public offering. Perhaps you’d like to invest…


About the author

Zoe Mendelson is a mushroom salesperson in Brooklyn, NY. She writes a weekly map column for UntappedCities