Single Emojis, Double Meanings
Written by Analiese Maciel, Juee Deshmukh & Asic, edited by Aarav Navani, Harini Akurathi, & Nivi Chozhan, layout by Karen He, and Thejo Tattala, and blogged by Asic.
Emojis serve as a fun, silly way for people worldwide to communicate how they’re feeling. Almost, if not all brands of cell phones have a vast selection of emojis that their buyers can use, and they range from simple smiley faces to tongues sticking out. They can even be used to show what food is on your mind. Cool, right? But the meaning behind these ordinary emoticons can get a little more complicated, depending on who is conversing with you.
We all know that Gen Z is social media-oriented; we were the first generation to grow up with cell phones, and we have been subject to technology for a lot of our lives. Because of this social-media-oriented culture, trends have erupted and spread like wildfire — this is where you may find an explanation for the variety of meanings behind emojis.
Older generations like Gen X and millennials are less disconnected from social media; most of them using only one site like Facebook, whereas teenagers use platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram. Because Facebook is more conservative in that more adults are on the app, there is a lower chance for adults to find themselves immersed in the “teen lingo” of today. However, teenagers are surrounded by their peers on platforms like TikTok and Snapchat and can create and participate in new global-wide trends.
One of the most influential pieces behind the variety of meanings behind emojis is the platform I just mentioned: TikTok.
TikTok is a well-known platform that has influenced the way adolescents use emojis. It has led to many new interpretations of different emojis. For example, a TikToker might post a video making a joke about an emoji expression and influence a whole comment section of users. Or a video explaining what emojis to use for different scenarios gains a lot of views, so people start utilizing those emoji combinations.
When young TikTok users communicate with older generations, they might witness the use of emojis that are rather unfitting for the conversation. However, for the younger texter, the combination of emojis that they just used might seem suitable for the discussion.
Social media platforms have induced imaginativeness in younger generations. A simple crying face now depicts laughter among adolescents, leaving adults perplexed at the new interpretations. Generation Z is still on the search for novel and unique ways to express different emotions. Thankfully, companies are responding to the appeals and releasing emotions that are apt for teenagers’ use. Beware, millennials, because the next generation is about to express complicated feelings through a plain yellow face.
So what are some emojis with different interpretations? Take the ordinary smiling emoji. It’s the very first yellow face at the top of the keyboard. Older generations use this emoji to express happiness, joy or smiling.
However, teenagers use it to express sarcasm or confusion. The skull emoji and crying emoji have replaced the laughing out loud emoji, conveying “I’m dead” or “I’m dying,” two common phrases used by Gen-Z adolescents. According to teenagers on TikTok, the conventional laughing emoji belongs to older generations and apps like Facebook. It seems as if older groups use certain emojis more literally, while younger people are more sarcastic.
Originally published at https://issuu.com.