Excerpt from this article:
Alongside the long piece, doggedly and awesomely reported by Mary H. K. Choi, Wired also ran a glossary of emoji and what they signify to flirtatious teenagers. If you are old and out of touch like me, you will want to take a look and comprehend, perhaps for the first time, the magnificent spuriousness of all your texting assumptions.
…For one thing, Choi reports that the blushing smiley face actually conveys polite romantic refusal. She glosses it as “Hi. Um. Not interested. Sorry? Sorry!” This was news to my crack team of old person emoji decoders (age range mid-20s to 40s), who use the blushing smiley mostly to express that they are “flattered” (but not in a romantic context), “smug,” or “satisfied.” I, 28, personally deploy the face with friends as a more intimate and affectionate alternative to the simple smile. Another twentysomething in an office Slack channel sees it as a “cuter” version of the traditional smiley.
…Another surprising fact: For high-schoolers, the little monkey with his hands over his eyes (“see no evil”) communicates bashfulness, either a shy acknowledgment of someone else’s suggestive comment or an attempt to soften your own… But how do the olds use the “see no evil” monkey? “I think it means ‘Oh no,’ ” offered a 28-year-old friend via text. “Or maybe ‘I shouldn’t have seen that.’ ” “I can’t look,” was another suggestion. “Embarrassment” was a third. One woman in her 30s said she could imagine entrusting to the monkey a conspiratorial assurance: “I didn’t see anything.” (Person A: “I just found $5 and pocketed it right away.” Person B: [see no evil monkey.])