Thumbs up emoji is getting the thumbs down by Gen Zers

The thumbs up originated during World War 2 between pilots to communicate with ground crew before take-off. It originated during the China-based Flying Tigers in which were apart of the first American flyers in World War II.

Photo Credit: Photo via Under Creative Commons License

The thumbs up originated during World War 2 between pilots to communicate with ground crew before take-off. It originated during the China-based Flying Tigers in which were apart of the first American flyers in World War II.

By: Elias Meli, reporter

Thumbs-up, red-heart, “OK” hand, checkmark, poo, loud crying face, monkey covering eyes, clapping hands, lipstick kiss mark and grimacing face are all emojis people are considering to cancel. The Gen Zers generally feel these emojis are used in a passive-aggressive way that demeans them.

According to Adobe’s Emoji trend report, “emojis play a vital role in American’s daily lives. From boosting mental health to improving workplace efficiency, U.S. emoji users see significant benefits from including emojis in their digital messages.” The report surveyed 5,000 American emoji users and found that 91% of emoji users agreed that emojis make it easier to express themselves. The survey showed that the thumbs up and heart emojis ranked in the top five of peoples’ favorite emoji.

Reddit Responses

According to The NY Post, the Gen Z (People born between 1997-2012) community people are deciding to classify the thumbs up emoji as “rude” and “hostile.” Some people even say it is considered “unsettling” in the workplace. The Gen Zers also feels attacked when the emoji is used.

One Reddit user mentioned that the thumbs up emoji true meaning is “I’ve read your message and have nothing [to] add and I hope and pray.” This comment seems to be highly agreed on among the community, receiving positive feedback and people agreeing with this person. Older people use the thumbs up as “I approve”, “I’ve read” or “I will comply.”

One person even said that “We’re people and we have to use words.” This shows a growing hatred to emoji and even being classified for old people or something that only Gen X people should use.

The NY Post explains that younger people use the thumbs up emoji in a joking manner which directly contradicts how older people use the emoji. An article put out by Stylist reported, ‘According to a 2021 survey of 2,000 people conducted by Perspectus Global, the majority of people between the ages of 16 and 29 believe that you are “officially old” if you use thumbs up or heart emoji.’

Gen Z relationships with emoji’s

One person claimed that “The most compelling case regarding the thumbs-up emoji is that although to some it may appear as ‘work done,’ in my opinion it actually means ‘I did what I was pushed to do.’”  Meaning that there is still some hope that the emoji will not get cancelled. There is still a positive side on the use of the emoji among the Reddit community.

More than anything, context matters – if the ‘thumbs up’ is coming from a parent or boss, most younger people take it as an ‘okay’ and move on.  “It depends on the context of the conversation, ” explained junior As’maa Jones, “If it is a serious conversation and I put a thumbs up emoji, then I am definitely telling the person I am texting that I don’t care what you are saying.”

Sophomore Lara Pereira explained, “most of the emojis I use are in a sarcastic way. But I definitely don’t use the poop emoji. That’s cringy.”

Other Emojis

Emoji’s that used to convey laughing such as the general laughing, skull and died laughing emojis just doesn’t vibe with the community and because of that they do not want people using it. Even the phrase lol is now being classified as sarcastic.

According to the responses on Reddit, the red heart emoji is more inappropriate than the thumbs up. Emojipedia explains that on Snapchat, the red heart is displayed next to a friend you have been best friends with for 2 consecutive weeks. If Americans cancel this emoji, it will likely affect other social media platforms as well.

Some teens use the crying emoji instead of the laughing emoji. “Half of U.S. emoji users use emoji differently than their intended meaning. Gen Z emoji users are significantly more likely to agree they use emoji differently than their intended meanings (74% vs. 65% Millennial, 48% Gen X, 24% Boomer).”

The NY Post noted, “Using the right emoji — especially in the workplace — positively impacts likability (69%) and credibility (59%), but when used incorrectly it could lead to some uncomfortable situations, like when your babysitter takes your kissy emoji the wrong way.”

The least used emoji among all age groups is the poop emoji according to Adobe’s Survey. Also, the most confusing emoji is the cowboy.

Community response

Based on polls and asking the community however most people don’t want to see it go or rarely see it enough to care. The younger generation is more offended and sensitive to stuff however where even a slight bit of harm or offense to one can cause controversy among the whole community.

Interesting statistic from Adobe’s survey found “1 in 3 Gen Z’ers (32%) has ended a relationship with someone using an emoji.”

Xavier Brooks, 15, stated, “I think that it a good emoji because it is just another way of saying ok. I do not think there is anything controversial about it.” Brooks likes the use of emoji and thinks that the controversy is not necessary, and that emoji’s are just another way of conveying messages.

Mohammad Sial also agrees with this claiming that “they convey the message, so they are good.” Sial and Brooks thinks the same on this both saying that emoji’s are great and that they convey messages in other way however the community as a whole can’t seem to agree on the use of emoji’s.