Using emojis as shorthand when messaging co-workers has typically been a simple and effective way of communicating. However, as it turns out, some emojis may not mean the same thing to every colleague.
Emojis can be easily misunderstood — especially when in conversation with multiple generations. And according to research done by Perspectus Global via Yahoo!, which consisted of interviewing 2,000 British people between the ages of 16 and 29, there are emojis that make you seem “old.” The 2021 study recently resurfaced thanks to an article from Daily Mail titled, “Why NOBODY should be using the ‘thumbs up’ emoji in 2022.” In it, Gen Z offered up 10 emojis that they would like to see removed and never used again — starting with the thumbs-up emoji.
Top 10 emojis hated by Gen Z
- Thumbs-up (👍)
- The red heart (❤️)
- The okay sign (👌)
- The check mark (✔️)
- The poo emoji (💩)
- The intense crying face (😭)
- The monkey covering its eyes (🙈)
- Clapping hands (👏)
- The kiss or lips mark (💋)
- And the face with a grimace (😬)
People aged 35 and over are more likely to use these symbols, but they’re alienating to the younger generation. And while ’emoji nuance’ apparently exists in the workplace, Gen Z professionals are starting to point it out on social media.
Sending a thumbs-up can be seen as passive-aggressive and even confrontational, according to some Gen Z who claim they feel attacked whenever it’s used. Whether the chat is informal, between friends, or at work the icon appears to have a very different, ‘rude’ meaning for the younger generation.
It’s a feeling that gained traction in a Reddit post where one Gen Z confessed to being not adult enough to be grown comfy with the thumbs-up emoji. Others chimed in; most were bothered about the usage in professional settings. They find the emoji rather passive-aggressive. It’s the visual equal of sending a rather disconcerted ‘k’ text.
After Daily Mail published their article, Twitter wasn’t having it, as one person jokingly replied to the report, “This morning, I sent my friend a text to say I’d be late coming over. She replied with a thumbs-up emoji. I’ve been shaking since she sent it, and I’ve had to go to my safe space to recover.”
HR expert and Gen Z-er Kevon Martin advised sticking with basic happy or sad face emojis to avoid any misinterpretation. According to him, you can never “get too comfortable and use emojis that may have a double meaning.”