No matter what language you speak, emojis can feel like a universal mode of communication. Whether your spirit shape is a smiling poop or a Karl Lagerfeld kitty, there are emojis for almost every sensibility. But according to designer Rebecca Evie Lynch, there aren't any emojis that can speak specifically for introverts. "My boyfriend of three years broke up with me, citing the need for more time alone," she says, "I was surprised, as I've always considered myself an introvert, too, but I realized that my enthusiasm about being in a relationship sometimes overshadows my ability to read others' signals." So Lynch set out to design a communication system for the introverted.
The result is "Introji," a visual language to let your loved ones know "that you need more time and space." The more than 30 Introjis in her series include activities like reading, gaming, leaving stressful social situations and staying home. (Because extroverts may not realize that "staying home" is an activity in its own right.)
"Introverts tend to find the company of others draining," explains Lynch. "But communication isn't a one-way street. I want my system to be sympathetic to the other person in the equation." Hence an emoji activity in Lynch's green/blue set can be combined with a "no company" icon in the red/yellow set. This allows an extroverted person to speak the language of introversion, "hopefully making the question, 'Can I come and be social with you now?' a bit easier to answer."
Also included in the series are emojis that represent distress calls. "While introversion and depression are entirely different things—introversion is decidedly not a disorder—the need to be alone can often be mistaken for depression by others. Having these complex, distinctive emotional states represented in the toolkit can hopefully help clarify the difference," Lynch says.
Lynch's series is only a prototype, but she's hoping to turn it into a free app. First, however, she's crowdsourcing feedback about the series and taking suggestions for new introjis. If you're an introvert yourself or are in a relationship with one, post your ideas to Lynch's Facebook page. The current social anxiety introjis are great, as is the introji for "don't bother me, I'm reading." But what about "please leave me alone, overeager sales person" or "don't talk to me, chatty stranger"? These would be great for the socially shy, and, actually, for everybody else too.