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'Face With Tears Of Joy' Was The Number 1 Emoji Of 2021 — Sorry, 'Skull'

If you're not using at least the occasional emoji in 2021, you're living in the past. These simple little symbols can convey a whole lot, and like anything else, they're subject to the same whims and trends of the general public.

The most popular emoji of 2021 has been crowned, and it's probably not the one you think.

Cry-laugh (😂): nothing beats good ol' cry-laugh.

You know the one. It's used in equal parts as a substitute for 'lol' and as a way to mock those arguing online. The venerable cry-laugh emoji has been in regular use online for years.

But did it fall out of favor?

Unsplash | Isaac Smith

The favorite emoji of millennials, cry-laugh, attracted some negative press earlier in 2021. No, it didn't become embroiled in a scandal or anything, but various reports stated back in February that the cry-laugh emoji was falling out of favor.

Enter the new challenger.

The skull emoji (💀) may be a fair bit more grim than the cry-laugh one, but it feels kind of appropriate for 2020 and 2021. For a world in the midst of a pandemic, the skull emoji was the right emoji at the right time.

The skull emoji looked like the runaway favorite for 2021.

Unsplash | Lina White

Using the skull (or, alternatively, coffin) emoji wasn't just used to allude to death. In fact, the more common usage was as a direct substitute for the cry-laugh emoji — as in, I'm dead from laughing.

Was cry-laugh dethroned for good, though?

It certainly looked like it. Emojipedia, the biggest resource for, well, emojis, stated that, "It's common wisdom on TikTok that the laughing crying emoji is for 'boomers.' And by 'boomers', I mean anyone over the age of 35."

OK, boomer.

Early 2021 appeared to be the death knell for the cry-laugh emoji. But trends can change quickly, and there were still months and months ahead to declare the top emoji of 2021. You can probably see where this is going.

Skull, you're out. Cry-laugh, you're (back) in.

We're not putting the final nail in the coffin for the skull or coffin emojis, but fate is fickle, and these emojis appear to have failed to live up to their hype.

Of the top emojis, the trendy skull only managed to earn the 63rd spot in the top 100.

It's good to be on top.

Unsplash | Christian Lambert

Now that 2021 is nearly in the books, The Unicode Consortium has released their data on the top emojis of 2021. Surprise surprise, cry-laugh, or as they call it, tears of joy, is the top-used emoji of 2021.

It accounts for over 5 percent of all emoji use.

That's kind of an incredible statistic. It leads the way by this metric, with ❤️ coming in second. For those interested, here is, in order, the list of top ten emojis used:

😂 ❤️ 🤣 👍 😭 🙏 😘 🥰 😍 😊

😂 is back.

Pexels | Ann H

You can go ahead and keep using the skull emoji if you like. But if you pay attention to trends, cry-laugh might be a bit passé, but it's number one for a reason, so we should put some respect on it.