The Secret Ska History of That Weird Levitating Businessman Emoji:

It's one of the least popular emojis (ranked 1233 of 1679 on Twitter), perhaps because nobody is really sure what it is or how to use it. There aren't many hints. It's filed under the "activity" section on iOS. The Paris Review's blog described him as the eerie "floating face of capitalism."

Floating Capital: A Tour of Levitating Businessmen in Literature:

The eeriest and most gravid of today's new emoji is this guy: the so-called Man in Business Suit Levitating. In Apple's rendition, he cuts an imposing figure, like a rich kid who's just aced his LSATs -- a simpering, dubiously pompadoured fella in polarized glasses and a natty suit. His tapered silhouette hangs above a blip of a shadow. He's a superhuman exclamation point. He's the floating face of capitalism. And if literature has taught us anything, it's that he brings nothing but bad news wherever he roams.

I'm prepared to advance an entirely unfounded argument based on an hour of Googling: that this levitating businessman is the latest, most accessible form of a character who has haunted literature for more than a century. Sometimes wily, sometimes unscrupulous, and sometimes merely misguided, he's held aloft by Adam Smith's invisible hand only to be flung earthward again. Join me, won't you, on an impromptu whistle-stop tour of THE LEVITATING BUSINESSMAN IN LITERATURE.

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2 Responses:

  1. thielges says:

    I’d heard that emoji called the Rude Boy in reference to the south London ska scene. He’s allegedly doing a pogo move. Not that I know anything at all about the south London ska scene, so take that with a pinch of jerk spices.

    • Ficus says:

      This seems right on. FTA:

      “But long, circuitous story short: The levitating businessman emoji was based on a [Microsoft] Webdings character, which was based on the logo for a '70s ska punk record company mascot which was based on a photo of [Peter] Tosh.”

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