Emojis are not exempt from the generational divide

In the public relations world, clients count on us to help them communicate with diverse audiences. That got us thinking: how are emojis, those whimsical, clever little pictures that accompany our text conversations, used by different age groups? For example, the peach emoji means very different things to different people (Google it — we’re not going there.) In this month’s blog, we asked Alaskans across the age spectrum — Gen Z through Baby Boomers — what some of the more popular emojis mean to them, and how they use them. It’s a fascinating glimpse into how common language can be wildly misinterpreted depending on your background. 



Hazel, Gen Z - Genuinely supportive

Carrie, “Zillennial” - Equivalent of "k"

Melody, Millennial - Okay, got it.

Susie, Gen X - Somewhat curt way of acknowledging a message. Can be rude if overused.

John, Baby Boomer - Provides approval or acknowledgment of receipt.


Hazel, Gen Z - Please just don’t use this one

Carrie, “Zillennial” - Sweet! Hooray!

Melody, Millennial - Thank you!

Susie, Gen X - Yasssss! Praise it! Let’s goooooo.

John, Baby Boomer - Hearty approval


Hazel, Gen Z - Interested in something

Carrie, “Zillennial” - Do you see what I see? Being nosy.

Melody, Millennial - Watching/following

Susie, Gen X - I see you/I see what you did there.

John, Baby Boomer - Never used



Hazel, Gen Z - Sarcastic happiness

Carrie, “Zillennial” - My life is a disaster/this situation is annoying

Melody, Millennial - Awkward smile

Susie, Gen X - “This is fine. Everything is fine.”  

John, Baby Boomer – Never used



Hazel, Gen Z - Only for boomers

Carrie, “Zillennial” - That's silly (not funny, like the OG crying/laughing emoji)

Melody, Millennial - Laughing out loud

Susie, Gen X - Something is either marginally or legitimately funny but you don’t want to say more about it but also want to be responsive.

John, Baby Boomer - Laugh-out-loud funny



Hazel, Gen Z - Surprised / no comment

Carrie, “Zillennial” - I'm shook

Melody, Millennial - Oops

Susie, Gen X - “Ummm,” or, this is/could be inappropriate. Well, this is embarrassing.

John, Baby Boomer - Amazement / alarm / disbelief



Hazel, Gen Z - Sarcastic asking for something / sarcastic feeling bad 

Carrie, “Zillennial” – Sympathetic

Melody, Millennial - I’m sorry

Susie, Gen X - My kids are lamely trying to get away with something. I hate this emoji. 

John, Baby Boomer - Looks like the pain logo used in hospitals to assess degree of pain, especially number 8. [Photo below for reference]



Hazel, Gen Z - Joking

Carrie, “Zillennial” - Absolutely. Slay queen.

Melody, Millennial - 100%, absolutely

Susie, Gen X - Totally. Yes. ALL IN.

John, Baby Boomer - Never used.  Does this indicate 100% approval?



Hazel, Gen Z - Something’s funny

Carrie, “Zillennial” - Something's funny, I'm dying of laughter. Or embarrassed.

Melody, Millennial - This is a Halloween emoji

Susie, Gen X - It’s Halloween/checking out the latest true crime podcast.

John, Baby Boomer - Morbid idea / image / concept / “dead in the water”.


Hazel, Gen Z - Please don’t use it

Carrie, “Zillennial” - Legit.

Melody, Millennial - That’s cool!

Susie, Gen X - Damn, you look good/you are on fire!/on a roll!

John, Baby Boomer -  “On fire”   ~ evokes the image of Alicia Keys /very popular

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