Lest the Internet be wholly overrun, let’s get one thing clear up front: Adding more emojis to your texts does not mean you’ll have more sex.

Wednesday morning, in an annual tradition dating back to its early days, Match.com released the results of its annual singles’ survey: a large-scale, and fairly comprehensive, survey of American singles. As always, the survey found a number of interesting things. Nearly a third of singles met their last date online. Everybody sexts about the same amount, regardless of things like body size. But this year Match also asked about emoji use, of all things.

Half of all singles use emoji, they found.

Half of them have used the winky face to flirt.

And of America’s singles, Match says, emoji-users (a) go on more dates (b) want to get married and (c) have more sex.

Sound the alarms, Internet: SENDING MORE EMOJI MEANS HAVING MORE SEX.


A misleadingly titled Match.com graphic. (Match)

This is, alas, the kind of false positive that gets a lot of traction on these here interwebs — particularly when it involves things like emoji. And sex! To be clear, though, the survey did not establish any actual relationship between those two things, which would require a lot of research and careful methodology. It does not study how changing one would change the other. It does not hypothesize on how the two might be related.

It just says there’s some kind of intersection between the group of people who use emoji and the group of people who have more sex. But why?

 

Here’s one theory: Young people are more likely to use emoji. Young people also have more sex. (So the same type of faulty causal relationship could theoretically be drawn between sex and, say, ranking French Toast Crunch among your favorite cereals.)

Here’s another theory: The whole thing is borne out of our desire to ascribe magical powers to emoji, as if they were — after all this time and use and mainstreaming — some exotic totem that communicates heights of thought/feeling that other communicative modes simply cannot reach.

Guys, for heaven’s sake, it’s just an emoji. As Shirley Li laid out in a great piece for the Atlantic today, those lil smilies sometimes mean something. But they often mean nothing at all.