In the beginning, there were 176 emoji, mostly representing inanimate objects. There were no reaction faces. In 2010, emoji were adopted by the Unicode Consortium, meaning that they could be used across devices and languages, a sort of lingua franca for text and instant messaging. There are now 2,283 emoji, including an extensive collection of facial expressions, like “face with monocle” and “nerd face.” And yet, there is no “happy cry face.”
As an emoticon, happy cry face looks like this — :’). There is nothing in the language of emoji to express the unique feeling of being so overcome with positive emotion you are moved to tears.
There are five emoji faces that include tears, three of which express sadness. The two remaining emoji — the closest you can get to a happy cry emoji — express something like a guffaw, and are generally used to laugh at something or someone. Properly considered, neither of these is a “happy cry” face.
Anyone can submit an emoji proposal to the Unicode Consortium. Your proposed emoji must be unique, useful, novel, and frequently requested; it can’t be a mere trend, overly specific, or open-ended. Which is to say it must communicate a particular concept that doesn’t already exist in emoji symbology. Here is the 12-page proposal for the recently accepted “concerned face.” Strangely, it seems no one has ever proposed happy tears as a concept to the Consortium.
The case for the happy-tears is obvious: It would be equally useful to convey how I feel watching videos of dogs and cats who are best friends and how I feel about Google reportedly killing its censored search engine project because of backlash from some employees and how I felt watching the kids from Parkland confront U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. It’s part “bless us every one” and part Ethan Hawke standing on his desk, reciting “O Captain, My Captain” in defiance of the mean school principal in Dead Poets’ Society; empathetic, triumphant, moved, overcome.
The “happy cry face” is a face that says someone stood up for what they thought was right and a good thing happened, a face that says, “I hear the people sing, singing the songs of angry men,” a face that says, don’t yeet me to the moonmoon just yet, I’m good right here.