The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, including how we use emojis! Their meanings have changed as coronavirus continues to leave its mark. Below are some emojis that have taken on a new meaning since the beginning of the pandemic.
Pre-covid, the face vomiting emoji emoji was typically used to display distaste or outright disgust. For example "Brandon is trying to hit on me and Marcia at the same time. He’s such a sleaze-bag 🤮" or "This vegan chocolate cake is horrible 🤮". These days, people use the face vomiting emoji more literally, to mean "sick". Because nausea and vomiting are both covid symptoms, the face vomiting emoji is more likely to be used to mean you aren’t feeling well or are experiencing covid symptoms.
In the days before covid, the face with medical mask emoji emoji was used to let people know if you were contagious or if you weren’t feeling well. These days, masks are used in a much more preventative manner. It is normal (and even fashionable) for completely healthy people to wear face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. This emoji can be used to show you are doing your part in helping prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Prior to covid, the syringe emoji had all sorts of meanings related to injections: getting shots at the doctor’s office, donating blood, lab tests, intravenous drug use, etc. These days, with so much focus on the development and distribution of covid vaccines, this emoji’s meaning has narrowed. It is mostly used in relation to vaccines. In light of this change, Apple and Google have updated this emoji’s art to depict a syringe with a clear liquid (instead of a blood-red liquid).
Prior to the pandemic, the microbe emoji was used by people (biology students mostly) to refer to all sorts of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses. Nowadays, the microbe emoji is used almost exclusively to refer to the virus that causes COVID-19. Most vendor’s versions of this emoji, depicts a microbe that looks similar to how coronavirus looks under a microscope.
In the past, the fire emoji has been used to refer to things that are amazing, dope, or crazy. For example -- “that party last night was 🔥” or “oh man those limited edition Jordans are so 🔥”. However, this emoji when paired with the trashcan emoji can also be used to refer to the state of the world in 2020 and 2021, or anything else that is a dumpster fire. For example -- “I can’t connect to Zoom, I’m out of toilet paper, and I can’t tell if my chest pain is covid or just anxiety 🗑️🔥”
The year 2020 has definitely taught us the importance of good hygiene and the significance of taking the steps to properly sanitize your belongings. The soap emoji is a great reminder of that fact! Soap has always been the symbol of cleanliness but now more than ever, the soap emoji shows how truly vital hand-washing can be.
Previously, the house emoji was a symbol of a safe-haven; now, it is a symbol of a proverbial jail cell. Our houses have become our own personal offices, gyms and restaurants! This emoji can be used to let coworkers know that you’re working from home voluntarily or due to quarantine rules.
In 2020, most of the world suffered from stay-at-home-orders, lockdowns and/or curfews implemented by their governments. Getting away on a much-needed vacation never sounded better. Pre-COVID, the luggage emoji was a way to brag about the next vacation you have planned. Now, it is simply wishful thinking.
Emojis that feature hands can serve as reminders that germs can pass from person to person through physical contact. Pre-covid handshaking was a totally normal way for one person to greet another, or to say “you’ve got a deal”. These days, handshaking is a risky endeavor. The handshake emoji serve as a reminder that its often best to say hi from a distance (or maybe bump elbows instead).
Nowadays, the open hands and palms up emojis both can be used to say, “here, have a squirt of hand sanitizer” or “please wash your hands” especially when paired with soap or lotion emojis. Prior to covid, palms up was more likely to communicate thanks or prayer. And open hands was more likely to communicate go away or no thanks.
Prior to covid this weary face emoji was used to communicate extreme exhaustion, desperation, and weariness -- nowadays, this is just how we look all the time