East Africa: Spiral Eyes Emoji Revealed - to Help Express the Anguish of 2020

22 September 2020

2020, this year will go down in history. But, not for the best of reasons. Most reasons why 2020 will go down in history is the wildfires that have ravaged across Australia, Brazil and even Kenya's Tsavo National Park. Hundreds of thousands are dead from an ongoing, crippling pandemic. Kenya's economic woes are raising the tide as the rest of the economy attempts to back peddle away to safety, costing hundreds of thousands of job losses in the process. Even for those not directly affected, the perception of the ongoing crises has turned into a kind of psychic assault, challenging the limits of what we can express.

Fortunately, a new crop of emoji has just been approved by the Unicode Consortium to help out. They probably won't reach your phone until 2021, but they're clearly influenced by the chaos of the year, whether it's "face exhaling" (clearly exhausted), "face in clouds" (smoke?), or "heart on fire"(self-explanatory).

In part, it's meant to resolve a conflict in how different platforms interpret the "x eyes" emoji since Google and Microsoft have actually been interpreting that emoji as spiral-eyed for some time now. But it's also an expression of the deeper incomprehensibility of the past six months, as social isolation curdles and a surreal pageant of personal and global tragedies unfolds. In 2020, we all have spiral eyes.

There is also an approved tag to add a beard to any face emoji (male or female) in order to convey how much you have aged in the past six months.

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