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Why Is Gen-Z Trying To Cancel The Crying Laughing Emoji?

By Sara Levine | February 10, 2021
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Making fun of the generation above you is part of the natural order of aging. We make fun of our parents for not knowing how to reboot the WiFi router, our parents probably made fun of their parents for being afraid of rock ’n roll, such is the circle of life (minus Gen X, which appears to get away relatively unscathed due to an intense dose of middle child syndrome). This is all to say that I’m not surprised that Gen-Z are clowning the generations above them, but I am a little surprised that they’re coming for millennials and not their own parents who, I just learned today and am now spiraling because of the revelation, are largely Gen X. What did we ever do to you? *Thinks back to all the times we called Gen-Z children, dismissed them as being 12 years old, etc.* It’s a mystery.

The thing is, there are many things that would make millennials an easy target for a good roasting — from the low-hanging fruit of mashing avocado and putting it on toast and treating it like culinary innovation for years to the obsession with a particular pastel shade of pink (what even was that, anyway?) to the fact that we made fun of our parents for wearing oversized round glasses only to, decades later, sport the same oversized John Lennon-inspired rims. I’ve got to hand it to the youth, though, because they continue to think outside the box. They don’t go for the obvious; instead, they mock millennials for things like sporting a side part, wearing skinny jeans, and the most egregious, using the crying laughing emoji. And that, friends, is where I draw the line.

I can admit that skinny jeans are not the look for everyone and we took our obsession with it a bit too far. Likewise, I’ll give you that I had some truly heinous exaggerated side part years (mostly in college, but I’ve burned all the evidence.). But you will have to pry the crying laughing emoji from my cold, dead hands, and I will tell you why even though I’m sure nobody asked.

Now I know what you’re going to be asking first because it was my immediate thought, too: if Gen-Z doesn’t use the crying laughing emoji, how to they indicate laughter? Apparently, they use the skull emoji.

There are a few things wrong with this.

Now, I do feel bad being harsh on Gen-Z because they are simply ignorant. They do not remember the time when we millennials had to figure out ways to differentiate between various amounts of laughter. They were simply not alive (or at least, they were nonverbal) for the agonizing days of deciding whether something was simply funny (lol), very funny (rofl), outright hilarious (lmao), or literally-falling-on-the-floor hilarious (roflmao). Certainly, there are situations in which something is so funny you’re (figuratively) literally dead, necessitating the skull emoji, but there are levels to this sh*t. Personally, I like to progress from the crying laughing emoji to the slanted crying laughing emoji to the skull, and if a joke is really good, to the coffin or the urn. Everything cannot be skull emoji because everything is not skull-emoji funny. To ascribe every joke to this level of humor is simply an impossible standard, one that waters down the very genius of using the skull emoji in this context in the first place.

On top of that, the fact that using this emoji for its intended purpose is scorn-worthy kind of makes me want to, to borrow their own phrase, yeet myself into the sun. Oh, what, it’s too predictable? Too literal? Would it be ok if we used the crying laughing emoji ironically? Because I do that sometimes, like when I openly and honestly express my feelings and then need to add a little something at the end so that nobody takes me too seriously. Is that ok??

The crying laughing emoji exists for a reason, and I will not be made to feel ashamed, and I welcome my eventual roasting on TikTok.

And by the way, anyone with a widows peak cannot rock a middle part, and I’m too short to wear any cut of jean other than skinny jeans.

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