We’re here to talk justice today. Skateboarding is vastly underrepresented in one main area: EMOJIS. First world problem? Yes. But while so many other sports get representation in the latest swath of emoji releases (badminton, archery, FOUR types of cycling?!) skateboarding has once again been left out in the cold – uninvited to the emoji party. When we comment on social media we are forced to head to the old standby: look-alikes. And while it’s been fun using the surfer and snowboarder emojis to get close enough, we’re ready for our sport’s day in the emoji sun!
So what can you do about it? Glad you asked. While it might seem like the public at large is just left at the mercy of the emoji decision gods, there’s actually a lot more to it, and we as a large group of people, have more influence than we might think. To start off, we’re going to have to learn a little bit about something called, “Unicode…”
Have you ever thought about how text makes it onto your phone or computer screen? Probably not, but the fact is that it takes a HUGE amount of work to represent every character in every language on Earth in a way that makes sense to everyone using a device. If each company tried to do it on their own in their own way it would be total chaos. Samsung’s English wouldn’t interface with Apple’s English, and languages made up of tens of thousands of complex characters (think Mandarin or Korean, for example) would be easily misunderstood from device to device. This is where Unicode comes along to save the day. Unicode is basically a computing standard for consistency. They decide generally how languages and characters appear and set the standard so that billions of humans using multiple devices can all communicate with one another with minimal tech-inspired confusion. If you think about it, that’s an ENORMOUS task!
Unicode is responsible for characters and languages, which also makes them the governing body in charge of green lighting which emojis show up in your queue and which do not. Unicode releases new versions of the standards (read: possible new emojis!) roughly once per year in June. The latest release in June 2017 brought us the possibility of such new emojis as vampires, rock climbers, zombies, a brain (helpful for the zombies), a hedgehog, a coconut, and a curling stone. And while these have already been made available through Unicode, this brings us to the second link in the emoji chain: your device manufacturer.
Apple and Android generally update their emoji offerings in the late fall/early winter, which gives them time to get those emojis perfectly fine-tuned after their release in June. So if you’re wondering why you can’t yet express all of your zombie-related thoughts via emoji, have patience, my friend. The time is coming soon!
Circling back, how are we, the under-respected, under-represented world of skateboarding to rise up and get the emoji we deserve? Well, thankfully there’s no need to light torches and revolt - but that does sound fun! There is an express process for lobbying for emojis, and we’re here today to tell you how to be a part of the skateboard emoji force!! Initially, Unicode needs to see if there is enough demand for a given emoji. Now, if there is enough demand for a curling stone (no disrespect to lovers of curling), there must CERTAINLY be enough demand for a skateboard. But we need to get to the right forums to make our voice heard.
The GREAT news is that the skateboard is already a candidate for upcoming releases of Unicode! Yes! The difficulty here is that there are (ready for this?) 130 other emojis that are also eligible to be chosen. The final decision rests with the board of Unicode, but continuing to submit proposals to include a skateboard emoji (read how here!) will surely help them to see the demand. Also don’t be afraid to take to social media to express your need. May we personally suggest #skateboardemoji as a hashtag to express your lack-of-emoji woes? Using it all over Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will inevitably draw attention from Unicode if the usage reaches a high enough level. There has been proven success with campaigns of this type before, most notably one of our favorite emojis (and foods) the avocado. This emoji was recently released by Unicode after a public social media outcry. Thank you, avocado toast brunch photos.
There’s no reason that the skateboarders of the world can’t band together and demand representation amongst the badminton players and curlers or the world. After all, we have our own version of the Olympics, can’t we get an emoji up in here?! So get out there and use #skateboardemoji and create some buzz. Let’s get that skateboard emoji proposal moved to the top of the 130-emoji line! We're ready to see us get some emoji screen time, aren’t you??
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