"We all feel like gritting our teeth in a straight line sometimes," writes Leah Fessler at Quartz, which is exactly why she has deemed one emoji above all others "the best." The "grimace"—which Emojipedia also lists under the labels of "eek," "foot in mouth," and "awkward"—was added to the Emoji 1.0 list of approved emoji in 2015, and since then, Fessler has been impressed with its "versatility" and its status as "sheer human poetry." Not only does this particular facial expression allow us to mitigate stress by venting our anxiety "in a low-key way," it tamps down annoying Pollyanna-ish levels of enthusiasm that many (especially women) feel pressured to exude. The grimace is "a small way to dispense with unnecessary facades," Fessler writes.
Other advantages of the grimace: It can accompany requests for favors—it's a "light-hearted way to acknowledge the burden being imposed," she notes—as well as offer a nonconfrontational way to say "sorry not sorry," enabling one to be truthful "with a dose of playfulness and self-deprecation." In the end, though, the emoji's appeal may be much more meta. "We are all the awkward, anxious, shameless grimace emoji," Fessler writes. "It's time we start admitting it." More effusing on the emoji here. (The David Bowie emoji is pretty cool, too, though.)