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How a network of tiny Twitter bots is building a chill emoji universe


As far as social networks go, Twitter is not known for being particularly chill.

Earlier this week, after a 3-year old was killed in by an alligator attack at Disney resort in Florida, someone with a relatively popular account tweeted, “I'm so finished with white men's entitlement lately that I'm really not sad about a 2yo being eaten by a gator bc his daddy ignored signs.”

The tweet was then followed the account's owner being flooded with abuse, their personal information doxed by vindictive trolling looking for a real-world target for their rage. The whole fiasco essentially proved that, for every garbage action online, there is an equal and even more garbage reaction.

The problem is perhaps foundational to how most people use Twitter. The standard conception of Twitter is for people to use words to comment on the actual world. What if, instead, Twitter was used by robots to create pictures about an imaginary universe with only a symbolic relationship to our own?

This network of “tiny” Twitter bots employing emoji to algorithmically create endless instances of quotidian scenes is the chillest phenomenon on Twitter—and it's exactly where the social media network should be heading.

@tiny_bus_stop features “tiny people waiting for the tiny bus as the tiny bus stop,” according to its Twitter profile.

Just like in real life, sometimes the bus comes and the stop is empty.

Other times, a lady in a red dress decides to break out in a dance number because there was no one else around and she was feeling the beat inside her soul.

Zooming out an order of magnitude, musician and bot maker Emma Winston's @tiny_cityscapes generates the urban landscapes traversed by the emoji people so fond of utilizing emoji public transportation.

The crown jewel of this emoji city are its artistic institutions, such as @thetinygalley, an emoji museum with a constantly rotating display collection.

Museums aren't for everyone. Some emoji people would rather spend the day tending to their @tiny_gardens.

When an emoji city dweller's emoji garden isn't enough, sometimes the only solution is to take a walk though one of the region's many @tiny_forests. Watch out, they're full of dangerous emoji scorpions.

Other emoji people prefer taking the tiny bus out to the beach and spending a couple of hours contemplating a majesty of the @tiny_seas.

After a long walk down a tiny forest path or a rousing swim in a tiny sea, an emoji person can work up a tiny appetite. That's why @bon_appetiny, the emoji cafe, tweets up “tiny generated emoji dinners for two.”

Up in the emoji sky, there's the @tiny_star_field bot, which creates a “small window of starts periodically through the day and night.”

If glimpses of the tiny night sky seem like a reminder of a single emoji's insignificance in the grand scheme of Twitter's incomprehensible firehose, @tiny_astro_naut, an emoji space exploration program into @tiny_star_field should be a reminder of emoji humanity's surprising capacity for greatness.

There's something comforting about this tiny emoji world. Whereas so much of Twitter can be summed up by the derisive quip, “never tweet,” it feels like these bots aren't just tweeting, they're living.

Update 12:27pm CT, June 18: We've made a chill tiny bot Twitter list so you can easily zen out on social media.

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