Arguably, there is no more universal language in the digital age than the emoji. Would “eggplant” in any other language feel as naughty? A visual shorthand that forwards and enhances conversations, emojis should represent every human experience. But, that’s not the case. And, gaps often serve to further make groups invisible.
It took until 2015 for people of color and same-sex couples to become an emoji reality, for instance. And, my redhead bretheren are just finally getting ours this year. But, interracial couples remain absent from the images approved by the Unicode Consortium (the governing body repping all things emoji).
Tinder is mounting the #representlove campaign to add interracial emojis to those available currently. As part of this effort, the app commissioned a survey that revealed people who date using Tinder say that online dating makes them more open to dating individuals who do not belong to their ethnicity or race.
The app that lets people swipe their way to a relationship used marketing analytics firm Morar HPI to survey over 4,000 people between ages 24 and 45. They titled it the Global Tinder Survey on Interracial Relationships. According to 72 percent of respondents, Tinder is the most diverse dating app. When users sign up for Tinder, however, there isn’t a call to enter their race, so Tinder can’t provide numbers for the racial demographics of users to prove the actual level of diversity.
However, nearly 80 percent of the people surveyed who use Tinder did report having dated someone of a different ethnicity or race at some point in their lives. And, of people who used any dating app, 61 percent were completely open to interracial dating or marriage. Plus, 52 percent of those surveyed believed there was a lack of interracial relationship representation in memes, GIFs, and, yes, emojis.
Tinder was inspired to conduct their own survey by findings from a 2017 Cornell University study that asserted Tinder, and the popularity of dating apps that it ushered in, can be held responsible for the rise in interracial marriages. By dating through apps, you step outside of your traditional social circle and learn more about different people and cultures, which leads to a more open mind.
The survey focuses on what people think about dating people of other ethnicities and races, but it doesn’t address their actual behaviors, so actions may not consistently match intentions. However, any increase in overall diversity and acceptance of interracial relationships is great news. Ideally, the proposed emojis will be another aspect of this continuing shift.