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An emoji is like red lipstick – it's super on lots of people, but not great on me; I try it and wipe it off. But people are sending flowers and hearts and sunglasses and cats and smiley faces – rows and rows of images. Grown-ups are sending emojis. People who take themselves seriously are sending emojis. Are emojis just wacky cartoons, or is something more profound going on?

The smiley face has evolved, and can now be wincing, hopeful, bored, confused, loving. Nuanced emotions are at our fingertips. The crying happy face, for example -- what words for that one? When words fail, are people reaching for a more potent tool to say the thing they mean to say? Are emojis giving voice to our inner complexities, our vulnerabilities? Are they connecting us more intimately to each other? I mean, are we making a kind of poetry with tiny pictures?

I think I'm waiting for emojis to become more beautiful, more Vermeer and less Looney Tunes. But, now that I think about it, the emoji will probably become even zanier. Emojis work because they are funny -- they are Trojan horses, truths in adorable costumes. Emojis are at once happy and shockingly evocative. And there is beauty in that.


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