We’ve sunk so low as a society that we are now offended by little pictures on our phones. This proves that people will complain about anything. Help us wake up from this nightmare.
According to The Guardian:
Apple’s emoji keyboard has a number of notable omissions: avocado, bed, taco, levitating businessman. But by far the most glaring imperfection, as emoji become more and more indispensable to the daily texting habits ofsexy people, has been the overwhelming whiteness of all the little cartoon people. With two exceptions – a man in a turban, and another who seems to be coded as Chinese based on his hat – every emoji human or human part, from haircut woman to flexing arm to Santa Claus, is Caucasian-pink. At least, so far.
With the next iOS upgrade, it seems this may finally change. Last year, the Unicode Consortium, which develops the Unicode Standard from which iPhone and other emoji draw, announced that more diverse emoji were on the way. Now, beta versions of updated Mac and iOS operating systems show how the new icons will look and how they’ll operate: hold down on any human emoji, and you’ll bring up a menu of different color options based on the Fitzpatrick scale of skin tone.
Originally, I thought the emoji variations would be a pullout menu from the current emoji keyboard – in other words, that they would default to white, but offer other colors by request. We have enough trouble with real-life folks treating “white person” as the default form of human; making white be the literal default setting for human icons sound disastrous. But Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic set me straight: emoji people will echo the bright yellow of their more cartoonish cousins. The emoji keyboard currently contains two kinds of face icon – the ones that look like drawings of people, which are now Caucasian pink, and the ones that look like the button on the cover of Watchmen.
The “hold down to change color” option is an elegant solution (I was worried the new emoji would make the keyboard even more unwieldy than it already is), and the yellow default is better than the current white-or-nothing. But I admit: I was kind of hoping that the white emoji would just… go away. Not all of them! We can keep some of them around for the Oscars. In my heart of hearts, though, I’ve been a little bummed out that every purportedly diverse keyboard still includes white options for every face. People of color have spent years with no representation except “turban guy” – no cop, no angel, no grandma, no Buckingham Palace dude (has anyone ever used this?) that looks like them. Even the disembodied hands are white. It’s only fair that white people should figure out how to navigate a digital world where the only emoji princess has brown skin.
And forcing white people to represent themselves with non-white icons isn’t just a matter of “turnabout is fair play”. In 2007, Stanford researchersdescribed a phenomenon they called the “Proteus effect,” where people internalize the characteristics of their online avatars. If you’re asked to identify with an attractive virtual persona, for instance, you tend to act more flirty; if it’s a character in a scary uniform, you act more aggressive. The Proteus effect doesn’t just last while you’re online. Men who used a tall avatar, for instance, were more confident while interacting virtually – but also for at least half an hour after they logged off.
So remember, don’t use those little white emojis or you could be considered a racist too!