Apparently, there's an age you start using emojis all wrong.

Thanks to our brand partner, Berlei


Whether we’re ready to admit it or not, emojis have become a part of modern language.

If you’re over the age of 30, you remember a language devoid of nonsensical images punctuating every text message, and increasingly so, email.

So, it could be argued that under-30s are the purveyors of our new emoji-centric language. Teens likely started using them before their parents, deciphering and then dictating their meaning.

Last weekend American author and journalist Katie Roiphe, wrote for The Weekend Australian Magazine, “There’s an art to using emojis. And if you’re over 30, you don’t know it.”

Roiphe discovered while teaching an undergraduate class that she had indeed been using emojis ‘wrong’.

A 13-year-old she spoke to for the story, said she litters her texts with fish and ghost emojis – not because they mean anything – but to convey a mood.

The issue with over thirties, in Roiphe’s words, are that “adults seem weirdly wedded to meaning, to the idea of saying something specific.”

POST CONTINUES BELOW: Over-thirties, Holly Wainwright and Mia Freedman discuss their emoji use with twenty-something Jessie Stephens. 

She uses the example of a mother who sends her daughter a text messages with, “Can you walk the dog?” followed by an entirely redundant dog emoji.


Roiphe says the problem is that adults use emojis so literally and a little too self-consciously.

The power of emojis is in the use of irony. And a particular kind of irony.

“When people over 30 try to use emoijis,” she says, “the irony is not quite there – or quite right – because the trying is so painfully evident. They are so clunkily adopting a language that is not their own that the irony is undermined.”

It is slightly too enthusiastic. A little too strained – almost as if they’ve spent a good six minutes searching for the right one. “A calculated emoji,” she says, “is worse than anything you do on your phone.”

Image via Getty.

The effect of emojis in our new language, Roiphe says, is to be "almost random... casual."

With that said, meaning is constantly evolving. And meaning can entirely change based on context.

There will likely always be tension between 13 year olds and 43 year olds about the 'correct' use of language, but perhaps we're better off just accepting it doesn't exist.

Realistically, if you have a teenage son or daughter, they were never going to think you were cool anyway.

You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here. 


Emojis are the new way to say sorry. 

Teenagers have shared what's 'cool', and boy, have things changed.  

“You are the worst mother in the world!”: The reality of being a mum to a 14-year-old girl.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Berlei.