Gen Z Feel Uncomfortable About Thumbs Up Emoji Because It’s ‘Passive Aggressive’

By maks in Community On 30th March 2024

Lately, there's been a bit of a buzz among the younger crowd, urging folks to ditch the ‘thumbs up’ emoji. 

The consensus? It's coming off as a tad "passive aggressive."

A curious soul on Reddit wanted to know if other millennials and Gen Z peeps were feeling a bit ticked off by the ‘thumbs up’ emoji too.

Their post went something like this:  "I started an ‘adult’ job where we use Microsoft Teams to connect with each other for work."

"Currently, there only a few emojis you can use to react to a message (unless of course, you respond, and can use any emoji)."

"Most people at work use the ‘thumbs up’ reaction all the time. I don’t use it much."

"I either ‘heart’ reactions or reply even if it’s a short ‘Great!’ or ‘Thanks!’ (I also feel like I use too many exclamation marks, but that’s a different story)."

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"Anyway, I think it’s normal for to ‘thumbs up’ messages, but I still feel like it’s such an unsettling response. Does anyone else feel this way?"

The responses flooded in, with a mixed bag of feelings.

One person was a bit puzzled, saying: "If you feel comfortable using a heart emoji, I am so confused by why you hesitate using the thumbs up."


"I used the thumbs up (in my mind ‘I agree’ or ‘ok’) way before I used the heart (‘love it’ or ‘feeling the feels’). But that’s just me."

Yet, a 24-year-old chimed in, tagging the emoji as "super rude" and highlighting a shift in digital communication styles.

Their take: "For younger people (I’m 24 for reference) the thumbs up emoji is used to be really passive aggressive."

"It’s super rude if someone just sends you a thumbs up. So I also had a weird time adjusting because my workplace is the same."

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"So yeah it’s a generational communication culture difference. Everyone my age in the office doesn’t do it, but the Gen X people always do it."

"Took me a bit to adjust and get out of my head that it means they’re mad at me."

Another added, "It probably feels unsettling because it’s impersonal, and based just off this post, you seem like the kind of person who prefers more genuine interactions with others."

Then there was this perspective: "Damn I’m embarrassed to be Gen-Z. It’s just a thumbs-up. Don’t search so deep."

So, the next time you're about to slap a thumbs up on your message, maybe pause and consider if it's really the vibe you want to send.

Unless, of course, you're aiming for that passive-aggressive flair, in which case, why not throw a whole bunch of them in there for good measure?