The Number One: These emoji best sum up life during the pandemic

The Number One

The folded hands or prayer hands are being used more than ever, along with face masks and microbes

Put your hands together for the emoji of this pandemic.

The “folded hands” icon, which is also known as “prayer hands” as is used to convey “please” and “thank you,” was used 25% more last month than it was last August, the last time its usage was measured, according to an Emojipedia analysis of emoji use in the “new normal.”

Emojipedia, which tracks emoji trends on Twitter
suggested the spike in “prayer hands” could be related to “our current circumstances,” and cautioned that “it’s not a high-five.” The symbol showing two hands pressed palm to palm is also among the top 13 emoji used on Twitter last month, as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 continued to spread across the globe.


It’s been used to convey hope for loved ones to stay well or recover from the virus that has infected more than 1.4 million and killed more than 284,000 worldwide, as well as to thank the medical and essential workers and first responders for putting the greater good before their own personal safety — or simply to pray for an end to the outbreak.

The most popular emoji on Twitter overall remains the “face with tears of joy,” however, which was the Oxford Dictionary’s 2015 “word” of the year. And the top 10 emoji used on Twitter in April were pretty much the same as they were last August, when the analysts last studied emoji trends on the social media site. Old emoji habits die hard.

But Emojipedia noted that there are signs the pandemic is having an effect on emoji use; for example, the relative use of positive, smiley-face emoji has dropped 5.63%. Conversely, faces showing more negative or ambiguous emotions, like anger or pleading, have been ticking up, suggesting people are more uneasy right now.


And smileys aren’t the only ones slipping. Symbols related to travel and sports, such as the airplane, baseball and soccer ball emoji, have also seen their usage slip as the pandemic has led to travel restrictions, and canceled or postponed professional sports. In fact, the airplane has seen its usage halved.

So which emoji are people tapping instead? Shopping carts have seen a spike, perhaps linked to the pandemic panic-shopping that broke out across the U.S. in March, when images of empty store shelves and videos of people snatching bundles of toilet paper went viral.


What’s more, the pandemic has seen more people peppering their texts, tweets, social media posts and emails with several health-related emoji. When Emojipedia analyzed how often 12 health-related emoji were used in 2,454 tweets that included the terms “coronavirus” or “covid” in early March, the microbe was used in 42.09% of those missives, while the “face with medical mask” was used in 35.82%. Other icons that have seen a spike include the soap, the sponge and the ambulance, as well as faces that express some sort of medical malady, like “face with thermometer,” “sneezing face” and “nauseated face.”

People are also using more emoji than ever at the moment. Almost one in five tweets now feature an emoji, which is up from about one in six tweets at this time last year.

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