The cockroach emoji proposal is a story about texting through the apocalypse

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A slate of new emoji was announced in January. Months later, they’ve finally trickled onto most people’s phones… but in one case, it’s really more of a skitter. I’m talking about the cockroach, arguably the most shudder-inducing emoji of 2020 — and the product of a great little short story about the looming end of the world.

As my colleague Jay Peters and an excellent 2019 documentary explain, anyone can submit an emoji proposal to the Unicode Consortium. The proposal must convince the consortium that many people will use the emoji in a variety of ways. And for the authors of the cockroach application — Jason Li, Melissa Thermidor, and Amanda Hickman — that includes the aftermath of a nuclear war.

It starts with a line from the opening…

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