EMOJIS & FALSE AESTHETICS: A Language Study in Emoji Usage on TikTok

Baleigh Shortreed
3 min readMar 9, 2021
#emojiaestetic (TikTok Screenshot)

Since the 1980’s when the first use of emoticons was use and as simple as a smile [ :-) ], emojis and the use of crytotyping in the usage of informal language has grown exponentially. More specifically, we see now that the use of emojis has become more of a language than an addition to the use of language in writing on the internet. This is especially important as it applies to social media and the roles emojis play there. In this article, let’s take a look at the growing usage of emojis on TikTok and the role they have on the platform.

Today, TikTok is an ever-growing platform with nearly one billion active users. TikTok is primarily famous for its short style content that is currently known for lipsynching, dancing, and short entertainment clips. A growing trend on the platform that I see a lot of on my for you page (fyp) is the trending usage of emojis as a representation of one’s own aesthetic. The Emoji Aesthetic trend is growing daily and has many formats in which the creator and or their viewers interact with a TikTok under this trend by showing emojis that emulate their personality, typically in a set of five emojis.

In regards to this trend, we have to question on a case-by-case basis who shares their emojis with an accurate and true representation of themselves, or those who falsify their responses via a filtered persona simply for more aesthetic and acceptable responses on the platform. One specific scenario in which people may falsify their answers in order to be seen as more aesthetic or socially accepted is the sub-trend of the Emoji Aesthetic Trend, the First Five Recent Emojis Aestethic Trend. In this trend, the participant types out their five most recently used emojis and this is used to classify them into an aesthetic class. I personally gave this trend a shot and noted the following patterns.

  1. My first five emojis were more representative of my recent conversations and who I took to regularly talk to than my aesthetic.

2. My sister did the same and felt the same.

3. As did my boyfriend.

4. The sub-trend is specifically geared toward two categories: those who lie and those who don’t. It is a controversial trend.

5. The other trends within the Emoji Aesthetic Trend show usage of emojis as language and justification in the comment section as well.

TikTok itself as a platform shows plenty of trends that are just as controversial and just as interesting to study for the usage of ethics in writing and content creation, as well as the use of language and writing in multiple genres.

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Baleigh Shortreed

Writer, Author, & Entreprenuer teaching you to advocate for yourself through written, verbal, and digital means.