Implications for Graphicon Change
This study posits that graphicon use follows an evolutionary trajectory characterized by stages. Drawing on evidence that the uses and functions of emoticons have changed over time and that the introduction of emoji affected the popularity and usage of emoticons, we examine the uses of the newer types, emoji and stickers, and consider the relationship of stickers to emoji. Adapting the apparent-time method from the sociolinguistic study of language change, we compare sticker and emoji use by English-speaking Facebook Messenger users, exploring how they are used and under what conditions using semi-structured interviews and a large-scale survey. Stickers are argued to be more pragmatically marked for emotional intensity, positivity, and intimacy, characteristic of a more recent stage of evolution, while emoji use exhibits signs of conventionalization and pragmatic unmarking. The identification of patterns that characterize evolutionary stages has implications for future graphicon use.