Skip to content

The Gen Z v Millennial Emoji Cheat Sheet.

Are you trying to find your way in the social space but feel like you are wading between a Gen Z vocab that you can’t fake and an outdated Millennial take on trends that peaked five years ago? Look, some days, same.

In social media, we see wars break out over grammar mishaps, cancelled songs and incorrect emoji use. Okay, maybe not ~wars~ but that is what it feels like when you’re on the receiving end.

It all comes down to basics, you just gotta know who you are talking to and what lil echo chamber they might be sitting in.

We’ve been having some thoughts on those lil shiny pictures that are our second native tongue on socials: Emojis. Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, they may be getting in the way of who you’re speaking to and the story you tell.


We see this play out on Instagram and Tik Tok all the time, emoji’s don’t mean the same thing to everyone. Posting can feel like welcoming a battle in the comment section, cause some damn kids are ruthless.

We were not awkward boho-angst-Tumblr girlies in the early days of social media for nothing. Will this intergenerational keyboard warfare ever end? Probably not. We’ve made a little cheat code for now in case you missed the memo. Good luck out there.


Our lovably depressed and optimistically nihilistic post-1996-babies take sarcasm, cynicism and sass to a new level. Emojis that aren’t for the faint of heart and will leave older generations scratching their heads. Sorry mum.

💀💀💀 Instead of laughter our dear friends just say “I am dead”, “I’m dying” or “Literally deceased”.

Look, you might not get it but when the world is falling apart at least let humour be the end of you.

✨✨✨ Everything is an aesthetic for our younger folk.

There is not a vibe that cannot be left unchecked. Our favourite stars and sparkles just represent either an ironic or unironic emphasis on something being ‘fancy’.

🤡🤡🤡 Gen Z take no hesitation in dishing out rampant sarcasm.

The cowboy and the clown hold a similar chokehold on naming and shaming your enemies, ie. most politicians, the rich and mediocre white men.


Our cringe older sister, most Millennial emojis are defined by a sense of overly eager, overly literal enthusiasm to them. The Millennial crew have pure intentions, sometimes poorly executed. (We could say unfairly so, we will let you make that call though).

😂😂😂 A yellow face with a big grin, uplifted eyebrows, and smiling eyes, shedding a tear from laughing.

Millennials use this to indicate laughing, Gen Z have buried this emoji for being beyond embarrassingly cheugy.

🙈🙈🙈 Maybe just too flirty and obvious for their own good, dating apps and the early days of Instagram drove the trio of Monkeys into the ground.

Reserved exclusively for late Millennial mums giggling at their kids or that creepy guy sliding into your DM’s for the fifth time.

🔥🔥🔥  Oh fire emoji, you were the OG of Instagram.

We burnt you out (haha), overused you, abused you. It started with fire, lit, turnt up, we used fire IRL and boy did we get sick of it.

What emojis are you loving and hating at the moment?


Leave a Comment