Gen Z Feel Uncomfortable About Thumbs Up Emoji Because It’s ‘Passive Aggressive’

Generations Divided: What Emojis Mean to Different Age Groups

In today’s digital age, emojis have become more than just fun little icons; they serve as a form of communication that varies widely across generations. Jo, representing Gen Z, notes that her peers often use emojis in an ironic or humorous manner rather than literally. Trends evolve quickly within Gen Z, requiring constant adaptation to stay relevant. On the flip side, Sam, a millennial, observes that while the younger generations treat emojis as punctuation or brief responses, older generations tend to use them more earnestly.

How Did Gen X Fare? What About Baby Boomers and Emojis?

Ant, a Gen Xer, prefers responding to messages with emojis rather than initiating with them. He notes that younger generations use emojis more frequently, while he and his peers often stick to typing out messages. Mike, a baby boomer, agrees, suggesting that older generations generally shy away from emoji use altogether.

Specific Emoji Interpretations: Different Strokes for Different Folks

😂 (Face with Tears of Joy) – Jo uses it commonly for humor. Sam sees it as shorthand for laughter. Ant uses it in response to others’ texts. Mike acknowledges its popularity among younger users without a specific interpretation.

💯 (Hundred Points) – Jo and Sam use it for emphasis or agreement. Ant uses it in responses. Mike acknowledges it but doesn’t use it.

🙌 (Raising Hands) – Jo and Sam use it to express celebration. Ant doesn’t have a specific input. Mike also refrains from a detailed interpretation.

The “Melting Face” Emoji

Jo finds it useful for expressing disdain or reluctance. Michael associates it with being irritated. Em and Sam see it as expressing overwhelmed feelings. Ant is unsure about its meaning. Mike ties it to negative or unpleasant situations.

The “Rolling on The Floor Laughing” Emoji

Jo uses it ironically. Em says it’s great for formal settings to indicate humor. Ant links it to intense laughter. Mike sees it as something incredibly funny.

The “Skull” Emoji

Jo feels it conveys a “I’m dead” vibe or acts as a stand-in for “bruh.” Michael uses it to denote stupidity. Em connects it with contexts of laughter or shock. Sam says it can imply death from embarrassment. Ant and Mike associate it less frequently with toxicity or death.

The “Loudly Crying Face” Emoji

Jo and Michael relate it to laughing at inappropriate things. Em says it can signify strong emotions like beauty or cuteness. Sam uses it to signify happiness or feeling loved. Ant and Mike see it as a sign of sadness.

The “Exploding Head” Emoji

Jo uses it for sarcastic shock. Michael links it to sarcasm. Em and Sam see it as being mind-blown. Ant associates it with overwhelming situations, while Mike links it to confusion.

The “Nail Polish” Emoji

Jo connects it with queerness or self-expression. Em sees it as something fancy. Sam relates it to queer identity. Ant uses it for relaxation. Mike associates it with diva behavior.

The “Weary Face” Emoji

Jo uses it to react to attractiveness. Em and Sam link it to frustration or disbelief. Ant connects it to conveying bad news or regrets. Mike sees it as a sign of sad news.

The “Hot Face” Emoji

Michael uses it for sarcastic compliments. Em sees it as depicting being overwhelmed. Sam relates it to sweating due to attractiveness. Ant and Mike link it to literal heat.

The “Face with Rolling Eyes” Emoji

Jo, Em, and Sam connect it to eye-rolling. Ant links it to skepticism or confusion. Mike sees it as anticipating foolishness.

The “Eyes” Emoji

Jo hasn’t used it much. Em sees it as peeping. Sam connects it to curiosity. Mike links it to incredulousness or doubt.

The “Smiling Face with Hearts” Emoji

Jo uses it passively aggressively. Em sees it as gratitude. Sam uses it for appreciation. Ant associates it with love. Mike links it to family interactions.

The “Folded Hands” Emoji

Jo sees multiple uses for it. Em relates it to hope. Sam sees it as a thankful gesture. Ant finds it annoying but sees it as blessings, and Mike links it to prayers.

The “Face with Raised Eyebrow” Emoji

Jo links it to skepticism. Em connects it to disbelief. Sam uses it to signal suspicion. Ant sees it as curiosity. Mike links it to expressing disbelief.

The “Smirking Face” Emoji

Jo uses it to imply sarcasm. Michael sees it as sneakiness. Em relates it to mischief. Sam uses it for playful flirting. Ant and Mike are unsure about its usage.

Emoticons Still Trump Emojis

Though the meanings of emojis can be ambiguous, emoticons are generally straightforward. In use since the early 1980s, emoticons like 🙂 and 🙁 convey clear positive and negative feelings. Unlike the more recent and often complex emojis, these simple textual symbols have effectively expressed emotions in the digital world for decades.


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