There’s no singular insult that fills your stomach with shame quite like “cringe”. You can reclaim “basic”, shrug off “bitch” and prove “stupid” wrong. But cringe? You may as well dig yourself a little hole and hide in it forever – or at least until everyone forgets how much you humiliated yourself.
With that in mind, let’s take a moment to pity all those impacted by last week’s news that Gen Z have “cancelled” the thumbs up emoji. It is, apparently, a very “rude” and “passive aggressive” way to communicate “OK”, only used by old people (eg. 25 and up). Old people? Honk the cringe klaxon.
It gets worse for the old fogeys. There is in fact a long list of emojis that have been condemned as embarrassing, which happen to be prolific among those born before the millennium – an emoji epidemic, if you will. Just like doing the wrong version of heart hands (confused? Invest in life insurance), using these forbidden emojis will out your identity as a person with back problems, banishing you to the geriatric corner of WhatsApp. God forbid.
If you or someone you know has been affected by these issues, we have just the solution. Here is a definitive guide of all the emojis that are now cringe and therefore forbidden, so you can climb out your well of shame and live a life of freedom.
Thumbs up 👍
You heard. It’s passive aggressive, rude and hostile. Besides, it takes the same amount of time to find and hit the big thumb as it does to type OK. Stop being lazy, you.
Crying laughing 😂
People rarely cry with laughter at a joke told via text, so using this is often just outright disingenuous. Plus, too many old codgers use it.
Happy poo 💩
Poo is not cute. It is gross and smelly, and should have never been anthropomorphised. Why is it so bloody happy, anyway?
Red heart ❤️
There are so many different heart emojis to choose from that opting for a red heart reveals a lack of imagination. Get creative and use a heart that really reflects what’s in your soul. The black one, maybe?
Fresh mani 💅
This has been overused by pretty much every fast-fashion brand and middle-aged hun out there. Alas, nail art girlies must now find another way to caption their fresh set.
OK hand 👌
The only time it’s acceptable to do the OK hand IRL is if you’re scuba diving, or something. Digitising your real-life faux pas only makes it worse.
This one is most likely deemed as cringe because it is so widely misappropriated by older millennials and boomers. “Keep it 100” (or keep it real) is simply not an appropriate response to a selfie.
Dramatic crying face 😭
Boo-hoo, boomer. You’re old enough to use actual words to express your sadness. Save your emoji crocodile tears.
Kiss mark 💋
If you ever feel tempted to use this emoji, take a moment to reflect on who you’re sending it to and why. Do you really want to smack a red-lipped kiss on their cheek? Thought not.
Awkward grimace 😬
A lot of emojis are cringe simply because they are too emotionally specific and the awkward grimace is one of them. It’s cooler to be a bit cryptic, or you know, use actual words.
The squirt 💦
Over the years, these three innocent drops of water have taken a sordid path through internet culture. You know what it means, so why are you dropping them in some poor innocent girl’s DMs? Think long and hard.
Ditto the above. This is no longer a bit of veg, the internet turned it into a dick.
What are you, a teacher?