Before we answer the question, “What does the emoji thumbs up mean?” Let’s see what people are saying about it. The thumbs-up emoji has sparked a heated generational debate on Reddit and other platforms about what it means to younger and older generations.

A post on the social forum network Reddit has caused a lot of controversy by revealing the difference in interpretations between emojis, and the thumbs up (πŸ‘) sticker is in the spotlight: some consider it a positive reaction, while others see it as something offensive.

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It all started when someone started a post saying they were working among a bunch of adults and were uncomfortable using the “thumbs up” emoji. According to the report, the young man said that his entire team uses Microsoft Teams to exchange messages, with a thumbs up indicating agreement in messages.

But the author of the post said he disagrees with this usage. “Most people at work use the ‘thumbs up’ reaction all the time. I don’t use it much. I prefer to react with the [❀️] ‘heart’ emoji or I respond, even if it’s a short ‘Great!’ or ‘Thank you!”, reports the young worker, who owns the account @Dry_Interaction6220.

What does the emoji thumbs up mean?

In the course of the publication, other people appeared to defend the position of the young man, bringing up the debate about possible hidden meanings of the  thumbs up emoji. Many people believe that this symbol is now used in a mocking, angry, or even aggressive manner.

Apparently, for those 24 and under, the thumbs-up emoji is not a cool thing because it has taken on a more hostile meaning these days. This is a clear difference between generations and a reflection of the evolution of non-verbal language on the internet.

Facebook was one of the main companies to use the symbol as a synonym for something positive, the popular Like. Since then, several rivals have also adopted the emoji as a synonym for liking something. Twitter , TikTok, and Instagram, the most popular networks among generation Z, love the heart emoji (❀️) which symbolizes agreement.

Since Mark Zuckerberg ‘s network is synonymous with “old school” these days, it’s not surprising that teens see the symbol as something negative. The problem is that an entire generation aged 30 and over has gotten used to the thumb.

Differences between generations

Older people see the use of the heart emoji as inappropriate in the workplace. In general, people use emojis more for personal matters, relationships, or in informal chats between friends.

A July 2022 survey on Facebook and Instagram revealed which are the most used designs . Interestingly, it was neither the thumb nor the heart that topped the list. The emoji “crying with laughter” (πŸ˜‚) was the highlight. After all, laughing is ageless.

In another study, this one conducted by the company Crossword Finder, the use of emojis worldwide was mapped . In this survey, which was based on Twitter publications , the red heart (❀️) was the great champion.

At least in the case reported on Reddit, the use of emoji is more related to the lack of options in Teams than to misuse. But it is important to be aware of this change in understanding, especially when talking to younger people, because it can be the difference between being correctly understood or being frowned upon.