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What the Emoji Report Says About Australia

A global study of what countries are using what emojis is actually kind of depressing.

Image by Ben Thomson

Australians—in case you couldn't tell from the swarms of Raid scented backpackers we regularly spew onto the planet—love to party. Our national heroes are sun-damaged sportsmen with beer guts who smash beers and have slipped disks from getting slapped on the back too much. And who cares if the rest of the planet rolls their eyes at us? We live on a sunny rock surrounded by shining, jelly fish-infested waters, so fuck you guys.


With that in mind, the results of SwiftKey's recent global emoji report probably didn't shock anybody when it dubbed Australia as the land of "vice and indulgence".

The study analysed over a billion emoji users across 16 languages to track trends and patterns in what we text each other when we're drunk. It found that Australia leads the world in the use of alcohol, drug, clothing, holiday, cigarette, junk food, and pet emoji (not a typo, the plural of emoji is emoji). We can pause here to wait while you high-five the person nearest you.

While it's hardly a surprise that a country whose cultural identity is so entrenched in the "larrikin" enigma would use twice the booze-themed emoji to the rest of the world—our dominance across drug emoji takes a little more explaining. Apparently we're texting images of pills and syringes 70 percent more than any other country. All of this begs the question: how reflective are our phone habits of our lives?

Last year's global world drug report has us coming in first for the highest proportionate ecstasy use globally. But we don't stop with the pill emoji. The same study revealed we ranked second for opioid (codeine, morphine) use, third for ice, and fourth for cocaine.

In the report, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation president Dr Alex Wodak contextualises our high drug use as owing to economic and social conditions. "People on one hand have more money to spend and on the other there are more people who are at risk—and those that are at risk are getting worse because of high unemployment, poor job prospects, lack of optimism,'' he grimly concluded.


On a lighter note, we're not just a bunch of fucked-up party monsters, we're also gluttons! Our use of junk food icons is also almost twice the global average—not surprising considering our national obesity epidemic. Our food of choice to text is a lollipop—which makes sense considering our aforementioned love of ecstasy. Rave culture appears to be alive and well in Australia, or at least on our phones.

Considering we have the fastest-growing obesity rates in the world, it's fitting that we're constantly texting our buddies about the sludge clogging our arteries. After decades spent mocking fat Americans, we don't just text about food more than them, we've also finally caught up with them as being the most overweight people on earth.

Woah, this emoji thing is kind of turning into a bummer. While it's fun to picture ourselves as the life of the party, in reality it's a colourful reflection of our national drug, alcohol, and health issues.

Let's lighten this shit up—we narrowly beat out Canada for the most pet-themed emoji used. All those pets being texted to each other must be good, right? Or maybe it's just that we have animals on the brain, what with the bodies of 55 racing greyhounds being discovered on a Queensland property, a Victorian animal shelter killing animals to turn a profit, feral cats destroying our delicate and unique biodiversity, and tourists a burning quokka—the cutest animal on earth—alive on Rottnest island.

Congratulation fellow Australians, even our texts are fucked.

Follow Wendy on Twitter: @Wendywends