A survey about emojis has been doing the rounds this week, claiming that the library of yellow faces, cartoon animals and smiling piles of excrement inside your iPhone is the 'fastest growing new language ever', with 8 in 10 Brits admitting they use them to communicate.
Predictably, it is 18-25 year olds who are most au fait with Apple's 21st century hieroglyphics, while the over 40s struggle the most to find a practical application for a picture of a ghost with a black eye.
Which leaves the rest of us. A quick survey of Esquire's 30-somethings confirms a tentative embrace of slightly infantalising but oddly effective world of emojis, predominantly with what, in the spirit of this discussion, we'll call our 'baes' (male friend-on-friend communication appears to be, for now at least, still an emoji-free zone).
The survey, conducted by TalkTalk, didn't contain many surprises but did list 'Britain's Most Popular Emojis', a list of predictable big hitters – smiley face, laughing face, love heart, etc. – that struck us as rather bland, or what, in the spirit of this discussion, we'll call 'basic, bitches'.
At the risk of appearing like an unmarried Uncle in a leather jacket at a family wedding telling his teenage nieces and nephews about a wicked new band called Bastille, here is Esquire's alternative list of the ten best emojis. Why? In the spirit of this discussion, 'because reasons'.
1 | Weary Face
No single emoji – or indeed word in the English language, which is rather the point – captures the scatter gun ennui of modern life like Weary Face, whose downturned mouth and sunken eyes are perfect for explaining how you feel after taking a late lunch and discovering Pret is all out of chicken and bacon baguettes.
2 | Raised fist + Splashing sweat
If anything is going to encourage men to start using emojis with each other, it is a bit of toilet humour. This handy combo is a short hand for bashing the bishop and the perfect eyebrow-raised riposte to any friend claiming he is skipping the pub to stay in 'for an early night'.
3 | Dancer
The Dancer is the closest thing to a feminist icon in the emoji universe, used by the fairer sex to communicate a vivacious mood or mark a moment of ironic self-empowerment. That and actual dancing. Accordingly, men should embrace The Dancer – surely the first true emoji superstar – in the exact same way. In 2015, sass is for everyone.
4 | Person Frowning / Person Bowing Deeply
There is something deeply, inexplicably funny about Person Frowning. But more importantly, she and her spiritual counterpart Person Bowing Deeply are useful short hand for: 'I'm pissed off with you. Well, not really. Not enough to start an argument, anyway. But I do want you to know I am a little annoyed' which, as we all know, is an essential message to communicate clearly in any healthy relationship.
5 | Thumbs Up Sign
Giving the thumbs up in real life makes you look like either A) someone who still tries to channel The Fonz or B) an extremely nervous office intern. Chatting on your phone while crossing the road, however, it might just be the 'yeah, that's fine' shorthand that saves your life.
6 | Confounded Face
For men in their 30s, Confounded Face can be used to explain clearly and quickly that you're suffering from a level 9-10 hangover, and must therefore be excused from any pre-planned park football session, lunch date or any other social engagement that requires getting out of bed. This is a 'big gun' that should be reserved for extreme circumstances and not deployed lightly. Otherwise you can expect a Raised Fist + Splashing Sweat in response.
7 | Women With Bunny Ears
Who are the Women With Bunny Ears? Are they twins? Why are they dancing? Why are they wearing bunny ears? One of the great mysteries of the emoji world, we are yet to find a single practical application for these ladies – except, perhaps, to suggest a trip to the Playboy Mansion, which quite frankly rarely comes up – but we love them all the same.
8 | The Frog
No particular reason. We just think he's kind of cool looking.
9 | Full Moon With Face
The moon emoji series were presumably intended for keen astronomers and / or vampires arranging a get-together, but to us, the Full Moon With Face says only one thing: 'I am stuffed'. Which is useful, because if there is one time when a man feels compelled to express himself it is in the aftermath of period of extreme gluttony. This is the emoji equivalent of devouring two racks of ribs, blowing out your cheeks, patting your stomach and taking a notch off your belt. In other words: bliss.
10 | Older Man
Look at this face. What's the first thing you notice? The bald head and wrinkles? Perhaps. But what's the second thing? That's right, the great big smile on his face. Older Man represents something we should all aspire to: happiness in old age, bravery in the face of our own mortality. Use him to show the world you're not going to sign out and log into the great database in the sky without enjoying yourself all the way to the end.