It is one of the most popular emojis around, but Gen Z users have declared the ‘crying with laughter’ face ‘dead’.
Over recent weeks Gen Z users (born post-1996) have taken to Twitter and TikTok to declare they ‘don’t use’ the crying with laughter face because it’s associated with ‘old people’.
Instead they use the ‘skull’ or ‘coffin’ symbols to express their delight. The reasoning being that the joke or situation is so funny they have literally ‘died’ of laughter.
Death of the ‘tears of joy’ emoji: Gen Z users (born post-1996) on platforms including Twitter and TikTok have declared the ‘tears of joy’ or ‘crying with laughing’ emoji (left) – a favourite of millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) – ‘dead’. Instead they prefer the skull (right)
They have also revived lol (laugh out loud) and lmfao (laughing my f*****g a** off) – always written in lower case – as expressions of amusement, which were popular abbreviations on early instant messaging and texting apps before being replaced by emojis.
The switch reflects how younger users want to distance themselves from the ‘boring’ and literal way millennials communicate online, according to experts.
‘Face with Tears of Joy,’ the official name for the laughing crying emoji, is currently the most-used emoji on Emojitracker, a website that shows real-time emoji use on Twitter. It also topped Emojipedia’s list of the most-used emojis on Twitter in 2020.
However this widespread usage has made the emoji ‘uncool’ according to experts, and younger users are eager to distance themselves from it.
As one teenager explained on Twitter: ‘I have to use the tears of joy emoji when I speak to my mum. Every time I do, I die a little inside.’
In response to an older user asking ‘what’s wrong with the emoji’ on TikTok, a 15-year-old responded: ‘You should use that emoji bc [because we sure aren’t going to].
Anecdotally, older generations tend to use emojis literally while younger people get more creative, Jeremy Burge, the chief emoji officer of Emojipedia, an emoji dictionary website, told CNN.
Emojipedia recently wrote a blog post that said: ‘It’s common wisdom on TikTok that the laughing crying emoji is for boomers.’
Younger users have also grown bored of the straightforward way emojis are used by older users, and want to distinguish themselves or rebel against the status quo, according to Gretchen McCulloch, an internet linguist and author of Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language.
Each of the emojis below has been given a fresh meaning by Gen Z users. Scroll down, take a guess, and check your answers at the bottom of the story
The clown and pregnant woman might seem straightforward – but their meanings aren’t
The sparkle and coffin emojis have also been given new meanings by Gen Z users
The meanings attributed to these emojis are different to the emotions they portray
These pointing fingers are used together – but what do they mean?
Even the cowboy has been given a revamp by Gen Z social media users
The clown is used to indicate someone’s behaviour has been ‘foolish’. For example, if someone went to meet an ex and ended up sleeping with them, a friend might respond with this emoji. The pregnant woman is a sign of praise and can be found in the comments section of racy Instagram pictures. The idea is that the poster has ‘become pregnant’ just by looking at the attractive image/video
The sparkles are more nuanced but are used to indicate sarcasm in text, or simply to emphasise a word, in the same way italics might be used. Similar to the skull emoji, the coffin is used to indicate someone is ‘dead’ because a situation is so funny
The slightly smiling emoji is used to indicate a strained smile/false sense of calm when things around you are crumbling. The upside down smile is also used in a similar fashion. The heavy crying emoji is used to indicate you are overcome with emotion, namely, and confusingly, happiness. Also shows you have found something cute enough to cry over
The majority of people agree that it means ‘shy’. As if you were twiddling your fingers together, nervously. It could also mean that someone is being coy or acting cute
The cowboy emoji is a favourite among Gen Z TikTok users and describes your feeling when ‘you’re happy on the outside but dying and over it on the inside’