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Internet freaks out over alleged emoji conspiracy

We could use a hand here.


Miles Klee

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 31, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 8:46 pm CDT

The difference between celebratory slappage and pious reflection doesn’t quite come across in the abstracted world of emoji: a schism has long divided fans of an icon that may depict either.

It all started with a light-hearted news segment from Philadelphia station 6ABC News.

So, are we looking at hands pressed together in prayer, giving off a holy radiance? Or is it a high five powerful enough to send shockwaves of friendship into the local atmosphere? We’ll probably never know, sorry—which means we’re sure to have this argument again next year.

I know this is random. Dm me an emoji if you’re struggling with something in your life so I can pray for you. Thanks 😊❤️🙏

— Sierra Rose (@justsierrra) July 28, 2014

Most people don’t realize that, this “🙏” isn’t a prayer emoji. It’s just a high five.

— Çaniel (@Cabayed) July 25, 2014

sorry, but those will always be the praying hands emoji & not high-fiving hands…

— Danielle Black (@danielle_black) July 31, 2014

It’s a praying hands emoji y’all. You don’t high five someone else with your thumbs facing the same way. Or maybe you do, then you’re weird.

— Andrew Chen (@andrew3sixteen) July 31, 2014

This is a high five emoji 🙏 not a praying one people

— Tony Sunshine (@BDiddy23_) July 31, 2014

Dear Emoji maker, if it’s a high five emoji & not praying hands, make the sleeve of one of the hands different from the other. Just sayin

— So Cal Mountain Gal (@LiviRichelle) July 31, 2014

all these years I thought this emoji 🙏 was someone praying …..BUT ITS A HIGH FIVE?!?!?! I’ve been living a lie

— Leyoncé (@queenleyonce) July 31, 2014

I pray that people will realize that the praying hands emoji is in fact praying hands and not a high five

— Christine Lafferty (@cnlaugherty) July 31, 2014

We reached out to a few of these users in hopes of better understanding how they fell on the side they did and why the issue was important to them. This argument was fairly persuasive:

@MilesKlee Hey! iPhone verifies what each emoji means with the ‘SPEAK’ assist option. Highlight the emoji, and select ‘SPEAK.’ @dailydot

— Asia Chloe Brown (@AsiaChloeBrown) July 31, 2014

@MilesKlee The SPEAK option looks like this. When you select the praying hands emoji, iPhone says “Hands In Prayer.”

— Asia Chloe Brown (@AsiaChloeBrown) July 31, 2014

Meanwhile, the Emojipedia proved absolutely useless in resolving the issue: although “Person With Folded Hands” is “commonly used to represent praying hands in western countries” and “sorry” or “thank” you in Japanese culture, it’s also used to convey pleading, or—that’s right!—a high five. Because really, who is the Internet to tell you otherwise.

@ajs @kevinroose @jamesliamcook 🙏It is a person holding their hands together. Meaning of this differs culturally, which makes emoji fun 🎉

— Emojipedia ☺ (@Emojipedia) July 31, 2014

Maybe we should compromise and call it a high five with God.

Photo by C Jill Reed/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Jul 31, 2014, 12:09 pm CDT