More and more, online messaging is allowing us to involve a new shorthand that conveys emotion, intent, and meaning that usually resides within full sentences: emojis. While the red heart has traditionally signified “love,” Snapchat users will occasionally see it popping up next to the name of a person on their contact list when they didn’t even expect it! If you’re wondering why, how, or when, read on for your answers.
Snapchat has been around long enough that it has had plenty of opportunities to change and adapt to its explosive growth in users. As the interface has changed, so too has the app’s use of popular emoji. While we’re all accustomed at this point to using emoji in our regular online messaging (come on, who doesn’t carry a smartphone, anymore?), the way that Snapchat has chosen to integrate them into your contact list requires a little bit of understanding an explanation. After all, for Snapchatters, emoji do more than just conveying emotion; they tell you some pretty specific things about how you’re interacting with your friends, and how frequently your friends are snapping with you.
However, it’s first important to differentiate how emoji are going to show up when you’re on Snapchat. Text messages can certainly use emoji in all of the traditional ways that people currently take advantage of them; punctuate your sentence with a smiley face or bombard your best friend with a barrage of hearts. The emojis that require explanation are the ones that show up next to contacts’ names. These carry a particular meaning and they’re not chosen by individuals. Instead, they reflect the amount of activity you’re dedicating to particular people (and vice versa).
Without further ado, let’s dig into emoji, hearts, feelings, and how getting a proper understanding of how they all fit together can make you a better and happier Snapchatter.
Let’s Talk About Emoji
First things first: though the list of emoji that you’ll want to be able to discern between isn’t particularly long, it is important to you Snapchat experience! Though you can feel free to ignore the little symbols that pop up next to your contacts’ names, doing so will remove what would otherwise be a fun measure of your own online interactions with other people. Since Snapchat itself tends to tie so intimately into its users’ life experiences, why miss out on this feature of the app?
Again, it’s important to distinguish between the emoji that you use in your messages and the emoji that show up next to your contacts’ names when you receive or send a snap. The latter can tell you quite a bit, as you’ll see below.
Where Does the Red Heart Factor In
To put it simply (for all of you tl;dr readers), the red heart is a measure of your back-and-forth Snapchatting with a particular user. Before we can talk about red hearts, though, we need to talk about gold hearts.
The gold heart (or yellow heart, depending on how you see it), appears next to a friend’s name when you each qualify as each other’s “BFF” (best friend forever). This means that this friend receives more snaps from you than any other person, and the inverse applies to them; they’re snapping you all of the time! Should this ever cease to be the case on either of your ends, the emoji will simply disappear. However, the app keeps track of your continued activity, and will reward you for longstanding trends!
Trending with a friend? Trendily friendly? Before we chase our tails down the rabbit hole of alliteration and rhyme, let’s examine the way that you might “rank up” your BFF status on Snapchat. Implicitly, we’re also going to answer our original question!
The next step up from the yellow (gold) heart is the red heart. It’s not picked by either person whose name it’s showing up next to; instead, it shows up as a result of two weeks straight of BFF status! When you and another person snap at each other (in the friendly, Snapchat sense of the word, of course) for two weeks straight, you’ll each be rewarded with the red heart of “true BFF” status. Does it give you any particular advantage in your Snapchat experience? Technically, no. Does it give you and your friend something to be proud of and a wealth of interaction that you can look back on and be pleased about? It absolutely does!
As with the previous BFF rank, the emoji will disappear if you and your friend cease to be each other’s most prolific Snapchatter. The process doesn’t end there; there’s another rank to be gained, but it takes some serious friendship endurance!
More Hearts, More Emoji, More Friends
Though the hearts are certainly sweet and great at grabbing attention, they’re not the only emoji that will tell you about your interaction with your Snapchat friends.
You’ll get one more set of hearts for sticking with your same BFF for a prolonged period of time, but these ones come in a pair. Two pink hearts will show up as a reward for two whole months of nonstop BFF dedication. Talk about a lasting relationship, am I right? Even the pinkest of hearts won’t remain if either you or your friend start snapping more with someone else, however. If you make it this far, make it count!
While those hearts may seem like the most significant emoji that you’ll see next to peoples’ names (and maybe they are; it’s up to you!), you can certainly glean a lot of information from the several others that will occasionally show up. Two of the newest to make an appearance on Snapchat are a gold star and a baby face. The gold star is tied into one of the app’s newest features: the “replay” system, which allows you to save a snap for up to 24 hours so that you can view it outside of that usual, seconds-long window. The baby face will show up next to the name’s of your newest friends. Even if your friend list is hundreds long, you won’t have trouble picking out the greenhorns.
The flame and the 100 don’t function much differently than the hearts (though, I’ll stop myself from drawing correlations between hearts and the flames of passion!) The flame will build as you and another friend snap each other consecutively, every day. Miss a day and the flame dies out, but if you make it to 100 days, you and your snap-crazy friend will be awarded the vibrant 100. Keep in mind, while you and your friend are busy snapping each other every day, you may very well end up with hearts next to your names as a result!
You’ll also have your usual cadre of smiley faces to deal with. The plain ‘ole smiley face simply indicates that a person is a good Snapchat friend! You snap them often, they snap you often; not enough to be #1 BFFs, but enough that you ought to notice it. A face with sunglasses means that you and this person share a best friend. Whoever it is, you and your sunglasses friend are snapping the same person fairly frequently. A grimacing face, on the other hand, is a sign of the ever-awkward, “your best friend is my best friend, too.” Maybe it’s not too awkward, depending on how fond you are of BFF competition. That teasing, smirking face, on the other hand, is a sign of someone who snaps you all of the time, even though you don’t snap them as often. Hop to it, Snapchatter!
We can expect the emoji pool to grow, too, just as it has alongside the booming popularity of the Snapchat app. When the developers find new and innovative ways for us to relate to the people on our friends list as we continue to share our lives with images and video, emoji will be there to clue us into our own interactions.
Within the wide-open boundaries of Snapchat, every user’s experience is their own. You might go for years, snapping like a maniac, and never see some of the emoji above. Because they can’t easily be controlled (you’d need two-to-three people coordinating quite a lot!), they’re very dependent upon the implicit commitments and friendships that can be formed through this social media platform. Want to see some hearts? Get to Snapchatting, preferably with someone who will respond with an equal amount of attention!
While I hope that the above has been clear in solving the mystery behind the red heart, I also hope that I’ve revealed some of the larger meaning and significance behind earning one! Snapchat urges its users to move fast, sharing media from their life almost as quickly as they experience it. When we’re all consuming Snapchat content at such a rapid pace, it can be easy to lose track of the faces behind the snaps. Gold hearts, red hearts, and pink hearts–in addition to the other various emoji–can help to remind us of that meaning that might otherwise be lost. Share your own “red heart stories” from Snapchat in the comments below!