I was whipping up a batch of Chicken ‘n’ Nyquil just like the TikTok told me to when I heard disturbing news that my use of emojis and GIFs is (A) all wrong and (B) tells everyone how old and un-hip I am.
I reacted to this by immediately puttin’ the chicken on low heat and texting my Generation Z daughter to ask if it was true that a simple, affirming “thumbs up” emoji is considered insulting and passive-aggressive to younger folks.
She texted back immediately–because of course; that’s one thing I “heart emoji” about Gen Z; they immediately respond unlike my own Boomer generation which posts a question via text then goes full on cloak-of-invisibility for the next 36 hours. But I digress.
She tried to make me feel better, but her texts sounded like the forced-calm tones of the nursing home staffer who will gently but firmly guide me back to my room one day.
Multiple news outlets report Gen Z has been stewing in its complex artisan ciders for months now because Boomers’ emojis can come across as demeaning.
No! How could this be? I often use the thumbs up as a sign of endorsement and affirmation and follow up with the Leo DiCaprio toasting with champagne GIF to indicate “Good for you!” or “Job well done!” Turns out that’s horrible, too. Also, is it GIF with a hard G or soft like Jif? Oh. Got that wrong, too.
“It’s common wisdom on TikTok that the laughing/crying emoji is for Boomers,” said Jeremy (“Whippersnapper”) Burge who is, and I’m not making this up, “Chief Emoji Officer of the reference website Emojipedia.” Yes, well. It is very hard to get into brain surgery school.
Burge continued, “Older people tend to use emojis literally and younger people get more creative.”
Oh, shut the hell up. Was that too literal, Jeremy?
The notion that a thumbs up is passive-aggressive is just weird to me. Although, recently while I was enjoying a nice Sanka on the divan and watching “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” I was shocked when Housewife Lisa told Housewife Heather that when she texted a thumbs up emoji she might as well have said “(expletive) you!”
Oh, dear. If the Housewives say it’s so…
Interestingly my cell phone prioritizes frequently used emojis to the front so I can find them quickly while scrolling on my Jitterbug, er, iPhone. Have you looked at your frequently used emojis lately? Mine were (in order), thumbs up; smile; laughing and crying at the same time; red heart; green vomit face; eyeroll; and, strangely, chicken.
I believe it was Aristotle who said emojis are the windows to the soul and, if so, I’m wondering why there’s a chicken inside my soul-window.
This reminded me of a conversation with my daughter at least 10 years ago when I innocently texted “OK” to her question.
“Mom, you ‘K’ed me,” she texted back in .003 second.
“Was that bad?”
“That’s super rude.”
So much to learn. I had NO idea. So, it IS a generational quirk Boomers are going to have to accept. Up is down and down is up and OK is a horrible insult.
Other emojis dismissed by Gen Z as “old” included poo, see-no-evil monkey and clapping hands.
Hmmmph. All I have to say to that is single tear face, red anger head, mom-type face palming.
As for GIFs, apparently only Boomers use them anymore. An exhaustive take-down in “The Atlantic” recently concluded GIFs are for old people and old technology. Yes, even the classic Michael Jackson eating popcorn in the theater one and Mariah Carey’s “I don’t know her.”
All of which makes me feel very, you guessed it, downcast eyes, frowny face, chicken.