Apparently, there’s a generation gap in emoji usage. That’s what I learned after recently taking an emoji quiz.
Gen Z interprets some of the more popular emojis differently than do Millenials, Gen X, and Boomers. They’ve also developed something of a code – an emoji language – that references pop culture in ways that other generations might not understand.
I suppose that makes sense when you consider the history of generational language transformations. 23 skiddoo, bee’s knees, swell, groovy, cool, far out, as if, the Valley Girl and vocal fry trends, etc. It happens with every generation, the evolution of unique and defining communication patterns and terms. Then, along with the adaptations, comes the red-faced embarrassment or confusion of the older generations as they try to keep up.
The significant difference now is that emojis are images. Their use opens up brand-new opportunities to separate the lines of communication, delineate the ages. Unfortunately, it also makes it possible to visually capture the incorrect usage forever. Instead of funny verbal tales about how your mom or your grandfather or your boss bungled a term, you can share with the world via screenshots and social media.
Regardless, I’ll still use emojis. I like using pictures to express experiences and ideas. And if somebody from Gen Z mentions that my use of the thumbs up emoji indicates a passive-aggressive position, rather than a “good to go” perspective, I’ll take the opportunity to educate them on the best way to use the word whatever.