Greenwich: We Are What We Emoji


By Bobbi Eggers

Our digital footprint says a lot about who we are, like it or not, whether it’s a reflection of us as individuals or as a group. Because data is so predictive, companies use it to narrowly target, or take advantage of, people. For example, if you apply for a loan and use the word “God” in your application, data says you are 2.2 times more likely to default. So a company will save money by not lending to people who say, “God bless you,” at the end of their application. Pretty scary, right? We leave the trail of breadcrumbs of who we are without even knowing it.

Even the way individuals communicate is captured. Every day we emoji our way through our feeds, breathing life into our interactions, providing support by tapping the sad face to show sympathy, selecting from a suite of visual tools, keeping our true emotions easy-breezy. Emojis are the world’s first global form of communication, boiling it down to an icon. More than 90% of social media users communicate with emojis, often without any text at all. Facebook says that 900 million emojis are used every day, without text, on Facebook Messenger. The face with tears of joy is the global most popular by far, with the heart emoji running a close second. I consider that a good thing. Tightly controlled by Facebook, Apple and Google, emojis are thoroughly vetted before they become part of our universal language. The Emoji universe went crazy when Apple tried to revise the “peach” to make it look more like a fruit than someone’s backside. They succumbed to the outcry and changed it back, lol.

If someone did a heat map of the emojis you use most frequently, what would it say about you? Would it reflect the real you? Emojis can also be a reflection of the heartbeat of a city. Talkwalker, an international social media monitoring and analytics company, created an “emoji heat map” showing the most frequently used emojis in each of 13 different cities- NYC’s favorite emoji is the Statue of Liberty. Boston uses the flame emoji the most (?). It’s no surprise that the people in New Orleans use the fleur-de-lis more than any other city, but the flashing red siren emoji is a favorite there, too. Hmmm. According to Talkwalker, San Francisco residents love the nighttime bridge emoji, the sobbing face, the rainbow for LGBT and the fire emojis. Each city’s heatmap is a reflection of its people’s emotions and passions and conveys their feelings.

Of course, I was curious about Greenwich. What emojis is Greenwich using and what are we passionately communicating? I asked my friend at Talkwalker to organize an emoji heat map of Greenwich for the last 13 months (see above)- the larger the emoji, the more the emoji was used. All the various drinks emojis feel spot on, plus the mansions, field hockey and money. No surprise there. My guess is that the overuse of the shark icon isn’t reflecting shark sightings off the coast. I am pleased to see that we seem to be a happy community, compared to other cities. Our flames and crying faces are much smaller than the others. Greenwich people like to take pictures, we use our phones a lot, we love art, and we like to “go to” places, as reflected in the most popular emoji-the blue arrow. We are busy people, after all. We feel patriotic, lucky, lightning strikes, and we love to celebrate, to be sure. Oh, yes, and there’s no poop here. Upon further digging, Talkwalker also said the most discussed brand around Greenwich was “privately held company.” Lol. I am happy to say, the Greenwich heatmap confirms why I (heart) Greenwich so much.