An etiquette expert has revealed why older people should avoid the thumbs-up emoji as it is seen as ‘passive aggressive’
An emoji etiquette expert has warned that you should avoid a “passive-aggressive” thumb at a Gen Z, while a “slight smile” can also be misunderstood.
Keith Broni, 32, from Dublin, the editor of emojipedia, explains the hidden meaning of emojis that can be lost between generations in translation.
Many have developed sexual innuendo, such as the aubergine, peach and water droplets, and devilish smiling face which should not be taken out of context.
The howl with laughter emoji is losing popularity among Gen Z — people born in the late 90s to 2010 — and it’s not the “norm” to replace words with emojis, according to Keith.
He says emojis are quickly becoming more popular than using punctuation marks.
The crying of the smiling face is declining in popularity among Gen Z (left). The laughing devil face should not be taken out of context to avoid being offended
Keith added: “In a more serious and formal setting, emojis should usually be avoided as they can come across as not appreciating the seriousness of a situation.”
Gen Zs are calling on people to ditch the passive-aggressive “thumbs up” emoji and ditch the laughing-faced crying, according to emojipaedia.
Keith said, “Like language, we need to address who we’re talking to before sending them an emoji.
“People of younger generations try to avoid the thumbs-up emoji because they see it as passive aggressive and low-effort response.
“A Generation Z demographic might also see the ‘slight smile’ face as highly performative and somewhat passive-aggressive,” added the linguist.
Keith Broni is an Irish emoji etiquette expert who educates others about emoji trends, which can be influenced by pop culture — for example, the red scarf emoji was popular over the course of a month last year after Taylor Swift released a song alluding to on a ‘red scarf she left at the house of her lover’s sister’
MailOnline recently reported that a thumbs up can be seen as passive-aggressive and even confrontational, according to Gen Z, who claims they feel attacked when it’s used, confirming Keith’s findings.
Whether the chat is informal, between friends or at work, the icon appears to have a very different, ‘rude’ meaning to the younger generation.
A 24-year-old on Reddit summed up Gen Z’s argument, saying it’s best used “never in any situation” because it’s “hurtful.”
“Nobody my age in the office does it, but the Gen X people do it all the time. Took me a bit to fit and get [it] off the top of my head that it means they’re mad at me,” he added.
Instead of a light smile, texters should opt for an overly expressive emoji to add emotional clarity, he suggested.
Keith said, “Emojis are generally used in a positive emotional context and between peers for a sense of understanding.”
According to the digital linguist, you should be careful when communicating with bosses and reflect their communicative style – for example, if they use emojis to communicate, you can answer the smileys.
Keith said, “Emojis are symbols of emotional intent and are more commonly used in positive situations.
The emojis pictured above, including a trembling face (top left) and a long requested pink heart (top right) are new releases for 2022
‘They are often playful and clearly expressive.
“They contribute words and punctuation as part of a great stew of expression.”
The Top Ten Emojis That Make You Look ‘Old’
1 – Thumbs up – 24%
2 – Red Love Heart – 22%
3 – OK hand – 20%
4 – Tick – 17%
5 – Poo – 17%
6 – Loud crying face – 16%
7 – Monkey Eye Cover – 15%
8 – Clapping hands – 10%
9 – Lipstick kiss mark – 10%
10 – Grimacing face – 9%
Keith explained that it is also good etiquette to make sure the recipient has updated their phone and can see that the emoji can be seen by them.
It’s also good practice to check if the emoji looks different on the recipients – there may be minor nuances in the emoji designs that could lead to confusion.
He said: “Before 2018, people with ‘rolling eye’ emoji of Samsung devices had grins and looked somewhat suggestive – this was completely different from the iPhone equivalent.
The chair emoji was confusingly co-opted as a smiley symbol on TikTok earlier this year as an “in joke.”
He said: “Using the chair as a smiley emoji became a viral trend. There was no direct content, because there is no relationship between a chair and laughter.’
To avoid communicative faux-pas, texters can check emojipedia.org before adding emojis to a message.