Love 'em or 😐 'em, emojis are here to stay. The single-character ideograms went nova in the West when iOS and Android devices began to include emoji keyboards, all the better to communicate mood, dinner preference, prevailing weather or current geographical location. Though some emojis are genuinely useful or expressive, others are, well … not so much. In that spirit, here are five emojis so downright obscure, you have to wonder quite what the emoji overlords were thinking when they signed off on them.
🛃 It's a sign!
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Also known as "I am looking in your suitcase", the rather dry "Customs" emoji will be familiar to overseas travelers everywhere. It's especially handy if you find yourself in need of an emergency customs sign — simply print one of these out at font size 84,000. Alternatively, this emoji can also be used to warn traffic wardens of the dangers of reaching into giant oysters, which is definitely a thing, I imagine. The related "Cavity Search" emoji is due for release in 2017, possibly.
🏚 Dereliction of duty
Not just any old house building — a "Derelict House Building." This emoji is especially usefully whenever someone Snapchats you the question: "Remind me: what sort of house building are we meeting at, again?" In such circumstances, this precious flower will literally save you 22 characters — provided the answer is "derelict house building." Any other sort of house building and you're hosed. Otherwise, this is a great example of the horrifying growth in killjoy emojis which threaten that most graceful of digital art-forms: stringing several emojis together for the desired effect. Does one really need to 🏚 when one can simply 🏠💩? I think not.
🇺🇲 Not what you think
You only think that's the "Flag for United States" emoji. This, in fact, is an entirely different emoji: "Flag for US Outlying Islands." This is arguably the most pointless emoji ever devised. Not because no one actually lives in the US Outlying Islands except a few temporarily stationed scientists, military personnel and boobies (by which I mean the type of bird). And not because it isn't a country but a "statistical designation," whatever that is. And not because the US Outlying Islands aren't historically insignificant, because they are. It's because the flag is the flag for the United States. Not an identical one of a different name — but the very same. Why does it have it's own emoji? Good question. 🤔
⚱ Urn some respect
"What would you like us to do with your stiff, algid remains, grandpa?" I imagine my children will WhatsApp me in the year 2056. And thanks to this, the "Funeral Urn" emoji, my answer will be poignantly brief. Unlike the answer to "how d'ya wanna go, grandpa?" Like this, sweet child. Like this… 🐘💨🚬💥🎪🔥🚑
🗿 Alison Moyai
You already know this emoji is niche but perhaps not for the reason you might think. If you thought this emoji depicted a monolithic Easter Island Moai, you could be forgiven. In fact, it's a representation of the Moyai Statue near Tokyo's Shibuya Station, itself inspired by the Easter Island statues. A popular meeting place in Tokyo, suddenly the logic of it as an emoji begins to crystalize — emoji did originate in Japan, after all. Now all we need is emoji for all the other significant meeting places in the world, like the dumpster behind my local minimart. 👍
Itching to get your emoji issues off your chest? Issue forth in the comments below. 🚀