In a world riddled with ethnic and cultural anxiety, emoji developer, Unicode Consortium, endures as a digital bastion of progressive values. Despite Donald Trump's best attempts to "Make America Great Again," Unicode announced that it will be adding another 69 emojis to your WhatsApp's expressive arsenal in an update that will also include a breastfeeding woman and one in a hijab. Take that, Muslim Travel ban!

This diversification comes not long after Unicode tried to stamp out the supremacy of white (yellow?) emojis by adding a number of different skin tones to represent the pluralism of modern Western society.

In certain corners of the internet it was celebrated as a victory for diversity, racial equality and proportional representation, yet back in reality the jackboots of the far-right marched toward electoral victory in Britain and America, while whitewashing in Hollywood films and the gender pay gap stubbornly endured.

To celebrate greater emoji diversity as some sort of achievement is to seek victory in trivialities: they don't change the world and they don't matter.

If emojis are so trivial, some will surely ask, then why am I wasting my time writing about them? Here's the thing: they distract from the real battles and dull the sense of urgency to fight them by creating this illusion that the injustices of the world are changing.

As we learned last year, racism hasn’t really been eradicated from mainstream society – it was simply hidden under a superficial veneer of political correctness.

Just because people didn’t overtly express their prejudices and bigotries with the brazen abandon of the past, doesn't mean that they had gone away; they just lurked in the shadows – bubbling, seething, slowly spilling over.

The silence, it seems, had been mistaken for a false reality. This is why liberals such as myself simultaneously gasped and guffawed at Trump's ignorant outbursts about Mexican racists, convinced that we were witnessing a political suicide. But then, on November 9, we watched the electoral map turn to the deep blood red of an abattoir floor.

Policing the way that people talk quite clearly does little – if anything – to change the way they think. In fact, it only seems to breed resentment. Sure, emoji diversity is nice, but let’s not let it fool us into thinking that it's a sign of social progress or waste any energy on celebrating like it matters.

And that's the problem with this Lena Dunham school of liberalism: its adherents are so obsessed with self-expression that they neglect the real political battles that play out in legislature, praising diversified emojis while covertly racist voter ID laws subvert the Voting Rights Act.

This frivolousness is rampant on the progressive end of the political spectrum. The protesters that marched on Washington the day after The Donald's inauguration were supposedly the buds of a unified resistance, but they've gone awfully quiet since.

They came, they marched, they shouted, got their emotional release and went home, feeling like they’d done their part. They may have expressed themselves but they’ve proved about as effective in thwarting Trump’s agenda as Unicode’s emojis have proved effective in dismantling racism.

The Travel Ban still came despite their march, and it was defeated in the courts without them – not on the streets or on Twitter, lest we forget.

We should also be incredibly skeptical of the tech industry and its commitment to liberal values. Let’s not forget that Apple, the same company that commissioned the emoji skin tone update of 2015, has a long history of tax evasion.

Silicon Valley might veer to the left on social issues, but its economic agenda aligns perfectly with the GOP.

It also has a habit of distorting reality: Trump’s big victory came as such a shock because the Facebook filter bubble has distorted the political landscape by ensuring that people with conflicting views don’t come into contact with each other.

Just as emojis promote a false diversity, the cosmopolitan voter viewed Trump voters as some rare, almost mythical monster hiding in the backwoods of Alabama.

They didn’t feel real – until the votes were counted, that is. Elon Musk likes to propagate this idea that reality could actually be a simulation. Is this just geek talk, or is he trying to make us wonder if this is all really real, if all this terrible shit is really happening, while he sits on Trump’s business advisory council?

That’s not to say that there’s anything consciously sinister in Unicode’s latest emoji update: it’s just a business expanding its offering so it doesn’t leave any openings for competitors to potentially exploit. Let’s not pretend that it’s any sort of victory for diversity, because that just cheapens the cause.

Now that you're done with emojis, read how social media has created a generation of self-obsessed narcissists.

  • Lead image:Apple

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