Some days, writing is easy. The good ideas flow, the sources are easy to find and the words just piece themselves together naturally.
Yesterday was not one of those days. The bottom of the barrel was thoroughly scraped out and the only inspiration left was the release of new emojis for Apple users. As a result, there is now a column categorically ranking the best of the 69 new emojis — with 24 of those supporting skin color variations — that were released for iPhone users along with the iOS 11.1 update that came out on Thursday. Welcome to that column.
Emojis are, at first glance, not a terribly meaningful part of society. However, they allow for levels of expression in texting and tweeting that have proven to vastly improve the way in which we communicate with one another. Because they hold such an important position in popular culture, they are more than deserving of a completely arbitrary ranking system that reads like it ultimately decides which one is most important.
There is going to be some method to the madness. Each of what I personally believe to be the top five new emojis will be graded based on a one to 10 scale for their artistry, utility, and relevance to the cultural zeitgeist.
Wool socks — Artistry: 6/10 Utility: 4/10, Relevance: 5/10, Total: 15/30
There really is something special about wool socks. While that admittedly sounds like something a grizzled great-grandfather in a rocking chair would say, this particular incarnation of wool socks has some unique qualities. They are pleasant reminders of warmth and coziness, and this particular emoji will bring forth exactly that type of mental image that we will so desperately need for the next few months. However, it does feel as if diversifying this particular emoji to include more festive options that can coincide with the holidays would be a significant improvement so some artistry points must be taken off.
T-Rex — Artistry: 8/10, Utility: 6/10, Relevance: 3/10, Total: 17/30
Rejoice, for the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex has been brought back from extinction to add emphasis to our in-text “Jurassic Park” references. Despite the presence of more than 80 different animals represented in Apple’s emoji keyboard, there are always instances in which just the right animal is not available. The T-Rex has not often been that missing piece, but it fits many different uses that few others could claim. It is unique enough to not be lost among all the other animal options, and it has additional appeal as a symbol of outmoded technologies and ideas. Unlike wool socks, a dinosaur inspires a variety of emotions and is also exponentially cooler. Expect this one to bombard Twitter with its presence.
Face with raised eyebrow — Artistry: 2/10, Utility: 9/10, Relevance: 10/10, Total: 21/30
Smiling emojis are more adaptable than others, and this particular expression is one that we have needed for a long time. There were similar emojis available prior to the introduction of this new wave, but none are as versatile. The raised eyebrow — like the facepalm and the rolled eyes emojis — is capable of standing alone.
For those too lazy to manufacture their own takes on political controversy, this emoji is a godsend. There are so many things to be confused by or concerned for in today’s world, like the stupidity of all those people that show up in World Star videos or the laughable attempts by big businesses to relate to the student demographic. I don’t think it’s possible to need a particular emoji, but this one was missing from our lives for too long.
Flying saucer — Artistry: 9/10, Utility: 7/10, Relevance: 7/10, Total: 23/30
Just about everything in the modern day can be described as weird or strange. One of the decade’s most successful television shows is based on things in rural Indiana that happen to be strange. This emoji is just detailed enough to be pleasing to the eye, and it can be inserted into any situation to add a sense of outlandishness to any message. It is also scientifically 100 percent cooler than the silly, frivolous rocket ship emoji.
There is plenty of weird going around in the world today, and this is exactly the kind of emoji we have needed to capture the true zaniness. When the inevitable invasion by our alien overlords finally comes, this one will go to the top of the list.
Exploding head — Artistry: 7/10, Utility: 8/10, Relevance: 9/10, Total: 24/30
Much like the raised eyebrow, this emoji can be used as a one-character response to a bombshell political revelation or a video of Russell Westbrook’s latest dunk. There is just enough detail to make it really pop off the screen, and it can truly be used for everything.
Sure, other emojis can depict some level of disbelief, but none communicate that same reality-shattering and millennial-trademarked sensation of having your mind blown by something awesome on the internet. Feel free to insert this one directly after your essay’s thesis for maximum persuasive power.
Jonah Baker can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jonahpbaker