Of the 800 or so emoji symbols, which ones never get used? Is it one of the 20 hearts? Those Japanese characters? The floppy disc or the pager? Nope.
I’d like to think I only use emojis ironically, but that’s not quite true. Sometimes I also use them if I’m in a mood to make a text into a light rebus. But never sincerely. Never. Sincerely.
I was flipping through the emoji keyboard yesterday for the purposes of ironic usage and I had the same fleeting thought I always have: Who uses some of these?
Like… why do we need more than 20 different types of hearts but only one type of dog? Why are there 11 emoji symbols representing each of the numbers zero through 10 but only ten countries represented with flags?
So… I investigated. I found a site called Emoji Tracker that monitors when all 800+ symbols are used on Twitter and keeps an updated ranking from most to least popular. I tracked it for a few days to see which emoji maintained permanent residence on the bottom of the list — and these 11 took that prize handily.
Here are the 11 least used emoji…
11 | Division sign
The other basic mathematical operations all chart much higher (the multiplication sign is definitely the most popular, then addition, then subtraction). The division sign has two things working against it. One, the other operators have some kind of dual social meaning (like a plus sign between a couple). And two, that division symbol scarred so many young children who had nightmares about remainders and having to flip fractions upside down that they never want to see it again.
10 | Clock set to 6:30
There are 24 clock emojis that display various times, so why is 6:30 the only one wallowing in bottom 11 ignominy? I’d like to say it’s because this symbol isn’t even accurate (the hour hand is slightly to the left when a clock actually says 6:30) — but I’m thinking it’s because on a tiny screen, this symbol doesn’t look like a clock and rather just looks like an indistinguishable circle with a small almost-radius line inside.
9 | No litter
There are three “no” emoji in the bottom 11, which leads me immediately to the spurious conclusion that people don’t like saying no to each other over text — yada, yada, yada — leaked anus photos.
8 | Mountain cable car
Mountain cable cars are definitely not a common form of transportation — you have to imagine only a tiny group of lumberjacks and Ricola spokesmodels commute on them daily — so they’re really more for tourists. Tourists who are probably taking photos, not texting the symbol for a mountain cable car to their friends. (Quite possibly because they don’t even realize there is a symbol for a mountain cable car.)
7 | No clean drinking water
If a person in an area without clean drinking water is an emoji fan and wants to tell people not to drink the water, that feels like a situation where you would want to make sure your message gets through clearly — you may not want to stake it on a little graphic. So I just can’t see when this emoji would naturally come up.
6 | Japanese symbol for “here”
This is the only Japanese symbol in the bottom 11, which does, in fact, answer the burning emoji question, “Is anyone using all these Japanese symbols?” Yes, yes they are. And quite frequently, it turns out.
5 | No bicycles
This one has to be particularly unpopular since I can’t even think of a single place where they’d ban bicycles. At least not outside of a stodgy town in a 1980s BMX movie.
4 | Suspended railway
I know suspension trains exist, I just can’t really picture one anywhere I’ve ever been. They’re pretty niche, which doesn’t help this symbol’s popularity. It also might be a situation where a person taking one for the first time is more focused on deep breathing and acrophobic prayer rather than texting.
3 | Passport check
When you’re at customs or a border check, you really don’t text and just focus on the task at hand — even though you DON’T have 60 pounds of meth in the trunk, you still have that inexplicable but creeping sense of fear of being detained.
2 | Security check
They get pretty angry when you whip your phone out at airport security, and if you do, it’s probably not to send someone the emoji version of a guy rifling through your stuff. You don’t pull out your phone anyway, though, because you’re just staring lasers through the guy hoping he doesn’t pull out that one embarrassing thing in your bag and start waving it around.
1 | Baggage claim
It’s really interesting that the least popular emoji is one that represents a situation where literally everyone is standing around, bored senseless, messing around on their phones. I guess people just hate the process so much they won’t even dignify it with an emoji. It doesn’t get more hated than that.