A few days ago, there was a tweet on Twitter that sparked a lively discussion.

This tweet was met with a large number of comments from users who agreed, and gave specific examples from their lives. Occasionally a few people would say 🙋 it was the first time they had heard of this usage, but their comments were quickly covered by other approving comments.

This usage comes from Generation Z——people born from 1997 to 2012. They are the first generation in society to be exposed to the Internet 🌐 and portable digital technology 💻 from a young age and are known as "digital natives". So they spend more time on the Internet, have a higher level of involvement in many things related to the Internet, and have left their unique characteristics on them.

Nowadays, emojis have evolved new rules and usages in the hands of Generation Z. Many emoji trends of the past have been turned upside down and we are gradually entering in a new era of emoji.

Emoji preferences of people in different generations

Since its birth in the late 20th century, emoji has existed for more than 20 years by now. As a tool for people to communicate, emoji, just like language, has been going through development and changes to suit the needs of people in different times.

Generation X (people born from 1964 to 1980) was the first group of people to use emoji. At that time, emoji was a new thing 🆕 and people didn't know much about it, so they used it in a very direct and simple way: smiley face 😄 was used to express happiness, crying face 😢 was used to express sadness, what kind of emoji looked like, what kind of meaning was expressed. And they don't have much need for emoji, they only use it occasionally in online chat.

Later, Generation Y (also known as Millennials, referring to those born between 1981 and 1996) became the main users of emoji. Compared with the previous generation, they know more about the Internet, so they are more interested in emoji and have more ideas. They extend the meaning of emoji and create more usages for emoji. They use emoji in a more flexible and interesting way.

🔺:Funny emoji combos

And today, the influence of Generation Z on the Internet is gradually growing.

"Generations have used language differently for hundreds of years to display youthful uniqueness", said Dr. Dustin York, associate professor of communications at Maryville University. As he says,Generation Z has created new usages for emoji based on their own preferred characteristics, and gradually developed them into the current new trend.

They like to redefine emoji and give unexpected meanings to many emojis. This can easily lead to some misunderstanding in communication and understanding. For example, do you know what this example in the picture below means? (Read this blog if you don't know 😎)

So, we're going to introduce you to the special use of emoji by today's Generation Z. If you want to understand or integrate with a certain group of Gen Z around you, you can't miss this emoji usage guide below!

Emojis given new meaning by the Generation Z

1. Loudly Crying Face😭

The official name of 😭 is "Loudly Crying Face", which can be reflected from its design: a yellow face with a sad expression and tears flowing out of the eyes like a waterfall. So it used to be the most suitable emoji to express sadness and crying.

However, now Generation Z has given it a new definition: laughing so hard that tears flow. They use it as an emoji version of the Internet slang "lmao" (short for laughing my ass off) to comment on things they find very funny. 😂 and 🤣, the emojis once were most often used to express laughter, now have been as symbols of middle-age by Gen Z, who feel these emojis are outdated and not useful anymore.

2. Skull💀

💀 was often used to denote a skeleton, a ghost, or some other scary thing.

Now it's used by Gen Z to indicate laughter, just like 😭, but a laughter more exaggerated and stronger. It is an emoji version of the Internet slang "I'm dead", which means "Something is so funny that I'm dead by laughing". ☠️ can sometimes be used instead of 💀.

Sometimes Gen Z will use these emojis together to indicate something extremely funny.

3. Hourglass

People are always good at using limited emojis to symbolize infinite things. Whenever I see innovative uses of emoji on the internet, I always marvel at the richness of people's imagination👏 and this time the same. The hourglass, usually used to represent timekeeping⏲, time or ornaments, is now a symbol of "Nice body" because its shape looks like a body with wide shoulders, thin waist and plump hips.

However, I wonder if the popularity of this usage will cause some body anxiety? Personally, I think the health is the most important thing, so do not be too hard on your own body, just to learn to appreciate your beauty💃.

4. Clown Face🤡

What does this clown remind you of? Amusement parks and circuses🎪? Or the Joker, the feared villain from the movie Batman?

Both are very different from what they mean today. Gen Z use it to describe stupid and funny people🤓 or things. Many people will use this emoji to make fun of themselves, such as the popular phrase in China "The clown is actually me".

Due to the limited space, there are many other emojis can't be introduced here one by one. If you don't understand the use of some emojis, you can search them in our website. We will continue to update the latest usage of emoji!

What smiley emoji means for Generation Z

In addition to the above mentioned emojis, the usage of many smiley emojis has also changed. Generation Z sees smiley emoji as a form of "passive-aggression", believing that these emojis contain sarcasm and hostility. This is also one of the reasons they don't like 😂, as the smile looks a bit hypocritical.

This phenomenon is very popular in China. People are more and more fond of using emojis ironically. Nowadays, almost all smiley face emojis can be used to describe sarcastic laughter.

🔺:The real meaning of Wechat's Smiley Face emoji

🔺:Emoji meme made by Chinese netizens

This usage has had some impact on people's communication, especially between two generations. For many older people 🧓, the smiley emoji expresses pure goodwill, while for younger people 🧑 who have adapted to the new usage of emoji, it is easy to misinterpret the meaning of the elders. Such a situation is becoming more and more common nowadays, and how to avoid this kind of influence brought by emoji may become a problem that bothers everyone in the future.


With the development of emoji, its usage has become more and more diverse. While this diversity has enriched the emoji-related culture, it has also created some problems that cannot be ignored, like the generation gap in the use of emoji mentioned in the article. If you have encountered such problems, we hope this article can help you✅! Also if you know any similar usage, please share it in the comments👏. See you in the next blog!