How popular were smiley's in the 90s?


How popular were smiley's in the 90s? They gave rise to emojis. A annoying limitation on the amount of characters that could be sent in a message on their early pager service plagued NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese telecom provider, in the late 1990s. The company's engineer, Shigetaka Kurita, came up with a creative idea. He came up with a collection of 176 straightforward pictograms, or "emojis," that could express feelings and information in a single character. Emojis were first introduced in a very basic form; they included faces, love, weather symbols, and music notes.

The Origins of the Smiley

Symbolic thinking and symbolic behaviour are considered the most representative aspects of human existence from the standpoint of human society and culture. The act of speaking is a distinct sign language. In the digital age, social connection is facilitated by internet emoticons, which are commonly used symbols in online communication. Emojis are a result of social communication in the new media era, as social media's emergence has produced the conditions required for this linguistic innovation.

Symbols are divided into linguistic and non-linguistic categories in communication research. Among the non-linguistic symbols used in communication are internet emoticons. The famous quote from media theorist Marshall McLuhan reads, "The medium is the message." Beyond conventional text symbols, non-text symbols like emoticons have become crucial in the world of new media. Traditional forms of communication have been upended by new media, which has quietly changed how people speak and caused a linguistic revolution that gave rise to the phenomena known as network language.

The English terms "emotion" and "icon" are combined to form the phrase "emoticon." It is commonly accepted that computer scientist and professor Scott E. Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University used an emoticon for the first time in an email on September 19, 1982, to provide a fun context to a communication. Emojis are the next development of emoticons; they are little graphics that represent things, faces, animals, and natural events. Emoji is a Japanese word that combines the words "picture" and "character" (hieroglyph). Employee of DoCoMo Shigetaka Kurita invented emojis in 1999. He was inspired by a variety of sources to create this new medium for digital expression.

Technological Advancement

Technological developments have played a major role in the creation of emoticons. For example, instant messaging software providers regularly release new static and dynamic images of humans, animals, and cartoon characters. These natural emoticons have become very popular because they compensate for text's shortcomings in expressing emotions in real time by conveying emotions more effectively. Emojis have evolved over time, resulting in a wider variety that users can choose from to represent a variety of feelings, wishes, thoughts, and cultural quirks. The most often used emoticons on WeChat display a wide range of emotions, including happiness, grief, surprise, melancholy, exhaustion, and love.

Furthermore, the popularity of emojis in online communication is driving their wider use. Emojis are used in online interactions by about 92% of people worldwide. Images try to replace language in its function of interpreting, comprehending, and authenticating reality, as stated by Neil Postman, in addition to serving as a supplement to it. Words and visual images work together to create a rich conversational field in online communication. Emoticons, which partially replace gestures, mimic the nonverbal clues of real-life encounters. By doing this, the virtual aspect of online contact is lessened and appears more genuine and interesting.

The Cultural Impact of Smileys

Smileys were ubiquitous in 90s culture and weren't limited to the digital sphere. With its focus on harmony and joy, the rave movement adopted the smiling face as its symbol. It was a symbol of the inclusive and exuberant mood of these events and could be seen on everything from flyers and posters to clothes and accessories. In popular culture, happy faces were used to adorn T-shirts, backpacks, and other items of products, catering to a youthful and nostalgic audience. The smiley's timeless and adaptable symbolism stemmed from its straightforward design and widespread popularity.

Smileys in Brands and Advertising

The happy face first appeared in streetwear labels like Kapital Clothing of Japan and Chinatown Market of Los Angeles. The happy face design's universality and open canvas nature make it a prime candidate for repurposing. It might also represent the counterculture's valued level of irony, which involves flipping a symbol. The grunge movement eliminated any infantile associations with the smiling face. However, it's also plausible that the smiling face became well-known in fringe movements as a representation of their ultimate desire for freedom and happiness. It makes logical that the happy face has returned in style given the recent tie-dye craze and the resurrection of '90s nostalgia. Additionally, brands are vying to appear edgy and break away from their corporate origins. We'll refer to this resurgence of the smiley as "corporate grunge." It combines the history of the smiley - which began as an insurance advertisement - with its proliferation as a counterculture mainstay to produce an incredibly oxymoronic design. The happy face appears to have completed a circle.

The Evolution of the Smiley

Images on social media disseminate more quickly than text, convey more information per unit, and can go viral, giving them an advantage in influencing public opinion. By capturing everyday life and engaging in public events, network emoticons subvert the power of popular culture. Public events and online language are welcomed in cyberspace because to its open and free nature, which shifts the focus from traditional, sombre, and logical political criticism. With "picture behaviours" that are boisterous and engaging, frequently flavoured with humour and fun, this shift removes discourse limits and makes room for sub-cultural groups to express themselves.

When someone are involved in internet incidents, their photographs might become emoticons due to being graffitied, spoofed, insulted, satirised, or accompanied by hostile words. This exhibits illogical, sentimental, and leisurely behaviour. In the postmodern network society, we use humour, sarcasm, and ridicule to communicate our powerlessness, discontent, anxiety, and perplexity. This method is a grassroots attempt to assert the right to self-expression as well as a challenge to the dismantling of conventional aesthetic standards. Emojis operate as a "weapon" to persistently subvert serious elite authority and take control of popular culture's discourse power while appearing to be amusing.


Emojis' development over time is evidence of the effectiveness of visual communication and the creative energy of digital culture. Emojis began as straightforward icons created to get over technical constraints. From then, they developed into a universal language that transformed internet communication and permanently altered design.

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