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Broadcast Generation 6: Intimacy & Anxiety

Broadcast Generation 6 is the latest student-generated exhibit presented through a collaboration between the Program for Writing & Rhetoric and the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries. This exhibit invites the viewer to contemplate themes of intimacy and anxiety within and beyond the current historical situation and to find, even within the apparent contradictions, a life-affirming solidarity.

Translating the human experiences of intimacy and anxiety into a virtual representation creates questions about individuality and authenticity in the digital world. Bitmoji characters standardize our individual personalities into uniform visuals. Does this diminish the expression of our humanity, or does it connect us to have a universal visual and emotional language? Are we able to empathize with, and put ourselves into the shoes of a stranger’s bitmoji? 


Clichés capture the common trials of human existence. The simplicity of emojis can show us that no matter how unique our personal lives seem, at their core the story is the same.

We are all characters in our own digital cartoons. If we look back on our lives we can see the digital storyboard: the texts, emojis, bitmojis, ironic reflections of our joy and discomfort.

We are all characters in our own digital cartoons. If we look back on our lives we can see the digital storyboard: the texts, emojis, bitmojis, ironic reflections of our joy and discomfort.

Calculation, elation, fear, joy. Building intimacy in a modern world full of change takes plenty of vulnerability.

We interact in a high-stakes world, where social networks are wide and shallow. What kind of pressure does this put on us to perform?

Communication has increasingly been pushed to a digital form to accommodate the modern lifestyle, but communication isn’t just the sum of someone’s words; it’s also about the delivery of those words. The facial expressions and tone of voice can completely change the meaning of a string of words. Digital communication often lacks this expressiveness that comes naturally in a conversation, causing confusion and misinterpretation. To combat this, many have used alternative methods to convey their meaning with ease. Whether it’s using capitalization to highlight the point of a message, repeating letters or punctuation to add emotion. Characters such as * and ~ have been incorporated to *emphasize* or ~mock~ something. Capitalization can be used to show excitEMENT or surpRISE. And, emojis and bitmojis have come along to add even deeper meaning to digital communication. Emojis are much simpler than bitmojis in that they provide a uniform expression of various objects and emotions. Bitmojis add a sense of individuality by allowing the user to customize the emoji to look like them. The emotions represented are still uniform, as they cannot be customized, but the breadth of options to choose from makes them a unique addition to a message. The Broadcast Generation team wanted to test how far emojis and bitmojis could stretch in their representation of emotions and if they could stand alone as a statement. Anxiety and Intimacy were chosen as two emotions that can hold very personal background and meanings. The exhibit explores the many representations of anxiety and intimacy that a simple emoji or bitmoji can hold. The dominance of bitmojis in these posters shows the strong sense of individuality that these characters provide a user. Although the styling of the character’s environment may be universal, the meaning the user gives it in context becomes unique because the character itself provides the reader with an individual representation of the user that comes with the message.


This poster shows a successful creative risk in creating a narrative scene using Bitmoji. Paired with the artist’s intimacy poster, the two encapsulate the various states of anxiety during COVID-19 along with an individual view of navigating an intimate relationship during this time.

This poster provides a great narrative of the artist’s journey with intimacy. In their statement, they reveal that 2019 was “was permeated by a sinking relationship” and the composition explores the evolving phases of new relationships and learning to love oneself. The use of the lightning to symbolize a force pushing the artist to begin this revolution while also portraying the light at the end makes it a captivating poster.

This poster is a great depiction of anxiety due to COVID-19. The longing to be untrapped and outside without having a timeline is an anxiety-inducing situation affecting the entire world, and this poster combines Bitmojis to create a compelling visualization of the situation.

This poster introduces my experiences of anxiety with its foundation based on the jittery, sweaty physical ramifications of panic. It combines the psychological feelings into a three-part narrative: the feeling of being bound to panic, it’s nature of coming in waves, and a trigger formed from the past.

This poster depicts various feelings I hope to provide and/or receive in an intimate relationship while incorporating some stylistic features from my anxiety composition. These represent the anxiety that stems from maintaining a stable relationship that has a seemingly inevitable end.

When taking the two different emotions as deep as intimacy and anxiety in people's lives it brings an interesting concept to light. When told to portray these deep emotions through bitmojis and emojis we found the irony in the animated characters had almost completely disappeared when portraying these two feelings. These forms of communication are often light hearted and funny when used, so my interest really grew deeper into this project when we not only got submissions from people, but had to submit something ourselves. In this exhibit we have been able to uncover how much meaning a bitmoji or emoji can hold while it stands alone with little context. I believe we have pushed the sort of “funny and immature” stereotype held with bitmojis and emojis down with the amount of meaning we have put upon the ones we all used in these posters. Each poster contains a lot of personality from the bitmojis, which were more prevalent in use than emojis, and they really seem to give you a peek into that person's feelings.   


I think this is very good representation of the different emotions people can experience when they get anxious or are just down in general. I also think the rolling motion has a big part in this composition as well. Kind of reminds me of the saying “rolling through the motions.”

I think this poster shows what someone would typically expect in a romantic relationship. The interesting part about this submission is the absence of the hard times in a relationship, which shows it’s more of a “dream” relationship.

I really like this poster. It kind of shows how not only do girls and women fantasize about finding the one they’re gonna marry but men do too, which shows a little more vulnerability in men that we don’t always get to see.

This poster shows how  I feel when I get anxious. In almost any hard situation I typically call my mom and her advice for the situation helps a lot. The background is depicting the anger that sometimes comes with the anxiety I get. 

This is a representation of how I am easily infatuated with people/crushes I have had. I swear it’s love while my cat is basically calling my bs/ has the face of “here we go again” about the situation. 

Everyone experiences gender differently. Many don't think about it much, but some, myself included, don't have the luxury of their gender identity matching their assigned sex. These represent how I experience gender dysphoria – that mismatch between assignment and identity.


Anxiety: Out in the world I feel I have no choice but to present as a man. And yet, underneath, my thoughts stray rarely from how wrong it feels.


Intimacy: I'm out only to few people, but even to them it feels to me like I'm wearing a mask opposite my true self. My preferred gender fits like a bad coat because I know -- or at least feel -- I can't possibly pass.