Weekend Rants: If not racist, what is the function of these coloured WhatsApp smileys?

WhatsApp is undoubtedly the most popular IM app in existence. With its availability on all smartphone platforms, it has almost replaced the use of SMS. This is, notwithstanding, their recently introduced calling feature that’s also gaining momentum. All that is a story for another day.

WhatsApp Smileys

WhatsApp is in the habit of dropping tiny incremental updates to their Android app, almost on a daily basis. We would’ve preferred they lump the fixes and release them monthly, but then we always update once we feel the need to. Rumours filtered on the internet, saying WhatsApp introduced coloured emoji. I took them with a pinch of salt, until it got to me.

After an update, opened my favourite WhatsApp group and started seeing some black emojis. Quickly rushed to check mine and saw them peeping back at me. (See the screenshot above) From the very yellowish hands to the dark black hands. After looking at this for about a minute, I asked, “What’s the need for this?”

Please, why do we have these coloured smileys? Till date, I still can’t wrap my head around the reason for its implementation. What necessitated the need for it? What purpose does it serve if not to trigger this racism of a thing that has been debated since time immemorial?

So for instance, I am a black man, does that mean I should only use the black emojis and leave the white ones? Let’s say I want to make a hand gesture, I should pick the black hands instead of the yellow hands? Don’t know if it’s just me (or a personal grudge) but I feel uncomfortable whenever I’m to pick a smiley in a chat, and I’m presented with a couple of coloured heads and hands.

The point here is this: there’s really no need for these coloured smileys. WhatsApp should rather focus on some other failing parts of their app. Currently, anyone in a group can change group names and group profile pics, which is wrong. This is something that should be left for admins only. I trust BBM on that front.

Do you think these WhatsApp smileys are silly? Your thoughts.

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