It's World Emoji Day today!


That's not an emoji. That's an emoticon. But if I'd typed that on a phone, it would be converted to a yellow circle that looks like a face, winking with one eye. That's an emoji. Since texts are often devoid of emotion or a way to decode the other person's intentions, emojis like ;) are used in text conversations to say, "Don't punch me. I'm kidding." It's so passive-aggressive you're surprised to find it wasn't invented in Minnesota.

No one actually makes that face in real life; if people did conclude every third sentence with an exaggerated wink, you'd think the person had a facial tic or had so much coffee they were experiencing uncontrollable muscle spasms.

If you type this — :) — it's a wide grin, which also serves to deflect aggression. "You have a face like a skinned knee :)" for example. It's said with affection!

Many Minnesotans like emojis because they let you connote emotion without actually showing it. If you regard wide, conspicuous, public displays of emotion as the equivalent of stripping naked and belting out show tunes from the Lake Harriet Bandstand, then emoticons are for you.

Thank you for the lesson on text­ing etiquette from 2007, you say. What's next, Mr. Up-to-Date? Tips to keep your elbows supple while using semaphore flags? Tips for lubricating your telegraph key?


Look, I bring this up for a reason. Someone made a set of Minnesota emoticons, and it's been making its way around social media. Just so we're clear, there's probably also a GIF of a wombat being groomed with a toothbrush making its way around social media, so it's not as if that means anything. But the emojis are a clever snapshot of some basic Minnesota concepts. Some examples:

• There's a tiny Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat, for when you want to tell your child "looks like you'll make it after all!" Which could be referring to neatening up the bed after waking. They will not understand and think you want them to strew headgear around for no reason.

• Prince, in case you're having a conversation and can't quite express the emotion you feel when you want to pull all your music from YouTube and Spotify and start a new band that will play one concert at 2 a.m. at Paisley Park. Up to now you've had no way to communicate that feeling.

• Hotdish, when you text someone the message that you're hungry for life and would really be happy if life had a layer of Tater Tots.

• The Target emblem, which you can use to tell people you're going to Target, because typing out "I'm going to Target" is the equivalent of writing a message on papyrus with a feather dipped in ink and wrapping it to the leg of a pigeon. Can be combined with the Prince emoji to indicate, "There is a sale on platform shoes and Brylcreem."

• A gray duck. This mystifies some, but it refers to our preference for playing duck-duck-gray duck instead of duck-duck-goose. It's too exclusionary to brand someone a goose. A gray duck is still a duck but just, well, you know, different. This is why outsiders are confused when we refer to someone as "the gray duck of the family."

• A Vikings helmet, for when you're having a bad week at work and are considering leaving town unless the boss gives you some money and builds you a house.

• The Spoonbridge, which can be used to indicate "friends are here from out of town and I'm showing them things they saw on the Internet."

• A shovel, which can either be used to express, "It has snowed" or "The Legislature is in session."

• A bag that says MOA, which everyone knows means Minnesotan On Average. As in "Minnesotans on average are more literate and healthy than Wisconsinites who consume 6 pounds of cheese monthly while lying in reclining chairs," and other rah-rah-for-us survey tidbits.

• The disembodied head of a loon, for when you want to say "Ever try to sleep when those things are mating, and wish you had a bleeping guillotine?"

• A small bottle of Grain Belt, which can be used for tweets to show you're in a cool funky Nord­east bar where the locals are so nice they tolerate you when you say "Nordeast" except maybe some of them text. :(

• Bob Dylan, in case you pocket-texted something cryptic that looks brilliant but is really just words strung together.

• A Bundt cake, which has exactly one application: informing someone that your previous text had a word in which the "D" was silent.

Could there be more? Sure.

• The Pillsbury Doughboy would be useful when you want to let everyone know you're so cheerful that a giant could stab you in the stomach with a huge finger and you would giggle and hope you weren't fed to the oven with your mute brethren.

• The Star Tribune icon, with a white star in a green circle. Can also be used when you text "It's great that Captain America is now promoting recycling."

• The head of Jesse Ventura, to indicate "I still have no idea really how that happened."

• A rotary phone, which your mom could use. Meaning: "I'm not saying it would be nice to hear from you, but you haven't called in a month and your dad doesn't say anything about it, but I know he'd love to hear from you, too, but if you're busy with your life we understand. Love you."