Weird Emoji I Resolve To Use More Often

My messaging isn’t strange enough

Clive Thompson
5 min readMar 24


Photo by annie pm on Unsplash

My signature move with emoji is this combo: 🤘🤖

I use it whenever I want to signal approval, pleasure, or agreement with something. A “robot throwing up the horns” is my nerdy contribution to the world of emoji linguistics.

I’m not a heavy user of emoji, though I do use them regularly — while messaging with friends, or posting on social networks like Mastodon, Twitter or Instagram. Apart from the 🤘🤖, though, I’m pretty predictable in which emoji I pick. I use the crying-laughing face 😂 (now regarded as quite passé by the youth of today, apparently); I use the heart emoji ❤️; I use 🔥.

Indeed, it appears most people are rather predictable in their emoji use, because when the Unicode Consortium recently conducted its survey of global emoji use, it found that the top 10 set of most-popular emoji hadn’t changed much since its previous survey of 2019. Voila:

If you want to see the popularity ranking of the top 1,549 emoji, the Consortium has put up that list in a Google Sheet here — and done a terrific writeup of it here.

I spent some time looking far, far down on the Consortium’s ranking, and decided that, you know what? The emoji I’m using these days are too damn obvious. I need to shake things up! I henceforth vow to inject many more weird and rare emoji into my intertubal communications.

So here are Five Lesser-Known Emoji I Resolve To Use More Often, and How:

1) Moai 🗿

I’d love to know the story of why the Unicode Consortium originally added one of these famous Easter Island indigenous statues, back in 2010. It’s not very popular; it ranks 463 on the Consortium’s list.

But it’s a fun one to use, because in addition to being beautiful, the potential meaning of the statue feels usefully open-ended. The Rapa Nui people who originally carved those amazing statues knew precisely what they were doing, but Westerners who encountered them much later spent hundreds of years puzzling over their meaning. So I’ve sometimes used the statue emoji when I’m trying to convey my own sense of mystery or bafflement.



Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”.