Design a smiley mask-wearing emoji for Apple iOS

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Friends, family, fellow iPhone users,

As much as we might want to forget about it, I think we can all agree that 2020 has quickly and relentlessly become a year that will be burned into our personal and collective memories for years to come. These are trying times for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is the unprecedented global pandemic we know as COVID-19/Coronavirus.

In recent days I have found it important to actively seek out things that bring me joy and peace to keep me from losing hope in the future (and my sanity). Even during this bizarre, overwhelming and, at times, heartbreaking year, I have found that — against all odds — I am still able to find reasons to smile. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this practice has become an ESSENTIAL ritual in my daily life.

Earlier this year, I learned an important lesson. With the bottom of my face covered with a mask and my mouth nowhere in sight, I realized that I can’t communicate to someone that I’m actually SMILING underneath this piece of cloth unless I smile with my EYES. I suppose I’ve known this simple truth at a visceral level my entire life, but the point has really been driven home for me in the past couple of months. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that all REAL smiles are actually defined by the eyes, not the mouth — but that’s neither here nor there.

All of this to say, I’ve decided to have some fun and start a petition for the design of a mask-wearing emoji that is smiling with its eyes. Now, if you’re a Google or Samsung mobile user, this point is moot — your medical mask emoji already seems sufficiently smiley (lucky you). If you’re like me and use an iPhone, our masked-emoji appears a little less spirited. Considering ALL OF THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE underlining the benefits of wearing a mask, I figured it was time to expand on the expressiveness of the Apple iOS masked-emoji.

I don’t have Photoshop or anything like it but I’ve gone ahead and created a very rough mock-up of what this proposed emoji could look like, which you can see at the top of this petition (cue cringing graphic designers). I actually think it’s pretty cute, if I do say so myself, but the point is just to illustrate a concept.

Now, is this petition particularly important? No. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of undeniably more critical petitions to be signing right now. But is this petition kind of fun? I’d like to think so. At the very least, putting this all together has managed to put a smile on my own face for today.

If you’d like to support the cause, please sign your name. If not, that’s okay - I still wish you the best. In fact, I wish every single one of you reading this a sense of peace and calm during these chaotic times. In many ways, this virus has reminded us of our shared vulnerabilities as humans on this planet. However, I also believe that deep down we share a desire to rise above the challenges we face and to find the joy in our lives. I hope to see your smiling faces - sans masks - on the other side of this pandemic.

With love,

Shohsei