These are the emoji to watch in 2023
Samer Kalaf looks back on "the year of " and forward to 2023
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But where do we obtain the kinds of insights and data that allow us to forecast the future with such uncanny accuracy? Read Max is pleased today to present a kind of “peek behind the curtain” at “where the sausage is made” in the form of a world-exclusive interview with the lauded emoji expert and prognosticator Samer Kalaf, to discuss his legendary mid-summer call that would soon become a top emoji, well before decaying establishment publications like The New York Times and Rolling Stone even noticed ’s emergence as a force in culture and politics.
🚨🚨🚨 Interested parties should note! While the vast majority of the fascinating interview is free for all to consume, in order to prevent “free riders” from profiting off of Kalaf’s lucrative scientific predictions, his picks for emoji to watch 2023 are available to paying Read Max subscribers only!! To ensure you aren’t left in the lurch next year, using out-of-date emoji and embarrassing yourself and your clients, subscribe to Read Max here:
Kalaf is a co-owner of Defector, a new sports-themed project from the creators of the beloved podcast Normal Gossip. He is on Twitter at @samer.
Samer, it's now clear that the "salute emoji" was the "top emoji of 2022." You were among the earliest experts/forecasters to make this call. How did you know would be so huge this year?
That's a great question. In July of this year, I had ACL surgery and, for the following two weeks, was under the influence of a medically prescribed high-grade painkiller. Because I had very little else to do at this time, I was posting a lot of things to my Instagram story: photos of my swollen knee, Arab memes, little bulbous chihuahuas whose owners I follow and have never met.
On July 31, I posted my own "emoji trend watch." In lieu of alt text, I'll describe what it says: I believed that the upside-down face emoji and woozy emoji were starting to decline, while "had a significant surge lately." I also mentioned that the orangutan emoji "remains valuable." I stand by all of this analysis, and I attribute my foresight to the powers of hydrocodone.
Why do you think got so popular? What is it about that is appealing?
is both unique and versatile. There just aren't many other emoji that can express that sentiment (saluting). At the same time, there are so many situations in which it's useful -- whether you’re wishing a friend good luck or signaling a stoic yet cheeky tribute to coworkers after your company is bought by a corny South African car salesman.
For users who want to bring into their daily practice, what are some simple tips? Similarly, what are the big "no-nos" when it comes to ?
Use it as a more interesting way to say hello or goodbye. Instead of a thumbs-up to acknowledge that your coworker will send that email or that your friend will be at the bar in 10 minutes, add a little flavor with a . Are you sharing a sports highlight or movie scene in a group chat, and want to signify that it's worth their time? Pay respects to Ja Morant's dunk or Jennifer Coolidge's line reading with a . Use it for your friend's photo of their baby, or your crush's photo of themselves. React to good or bad news.
Do not use for any military-related messages or activities.
In some respects, is an "advanced emoji." I've seen many people say they didn't realize that the emoji was saluting. Why do you think the emoji was confusing to people? How did it break through that confusion to become the top emoji of 2022? How can people improve their emoji literacy?
I can't find it now, but I saw some people saying they thought the saluting hand was a carrot or baguette? I don't understand that. I do think most people are accustomed to seeing emoji as a small image within their texts, and might not be familiar with the intricacies of each one. If someone wanted to enhance their knowledge, I'd say just google some of the ones you like and really study them.
Where do you see going in 2023?
I'd give it until March or April before it's considered corny or coopted by someone who is corny, and then it'll fade. The sure sign of an emoji's decline is when it's comfortably used by a brand or a staffer in charge of a politician's Twitter account. Even so, I think has the power to remain in regular rotation, even if it enters brand usage. The next few months are key, but I could see becoming a perennial emoji, like 😳 or 🤣.
What is your process? When assessing which emojis are primed to break through, what qualities and characteristics are you looking for?
I go by what I'm using in conversation, what looks aesthetically pleasing, what makes people laugh. But it's mainly a gut feeling, the same way a baseball scout at a High-A game just knows that the pitcher he's watching has the "stuff."
Several articles about have neglected to mention your early championing of the emoji. Why do you think the mainstream media has been so hesitant to give you your due?
I honestly feel pity for the assorted haters at The New York Times and Rolling Stone, among other places. They could have been informed months ago of ’s rise, but they chose not to keep tabs on my 400-follower Instagram account. Their loss.
What emoji do you think "fell off" in 2022? What emoji should the discerning user avoid?
🙃 - I know I'll get some disagreement here, but I think this one is passive-aggressive. Don't like it.
🤣 - This has been a top emoji for me in the past, but Elon Musk is trying to singlehandedly ruin it.
🤔 - You don't really see the thinking-face emoji that much anymore. I'm now realizing that this answer reads like a Larry King column.
What emoji are on your radar for 2023? Will you be publicly picking emoji? Where can readers follow your emoji predictions?
Editor’s note: The following answer, which makes use of Kalaf’s extensive knowledge and hard-won experience in the emoji space to pick three emoji he expects to see big things from in 2023, is available exclusively for paying Read Max subscribers!!
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