Linguistics in the age of emojis is a tricky thing. The meaning behind words and symbols are ever-evolving, and every budding generation seems to communicate slightly differently. Such things inevitably lead to intergenerational misunderstandings. The most recent topic in this conversation – the appropriateness of the thumbs-up emoji.

Redditor u/Dry_Interaction6220 took to r/Adulting to air her qualms with the seemingly innocuous text response of a thumbs-up in a professional setting. She acknowledges its normalcy but complains that she can’t help but feel a simple thumbs-up is “such an unsettling response,” seeking solace.

Naturally, the post incited a large amount of controversy. Some sided with this opinion, pointing out the passive-aggressive undertones the thumb has assumed with younger generations, such as u/HuaAnNi and u/SasiBan.

Other Redditors like u/AvalancheReturns, u/dowhatyoucanqt, and u/TootsNYC give us a refreshing reality check, reminding us to contextualize; this thumbs-up means something different in the workplace. 

Redditors commenting in agreement with OP caught a lot of flak, judging by the obscene number of moderator-deleted posts responding to these individuals. Some may have found this take on the matter overly sensitive, reading too much into a hand gesture on a screen.

The debate is still up in the air. There’s no getting around the fact that different generations have different relationships with technology, and emojis are no exception. Perhaps the seemingly timeless thumbs-up will take on a third meaning in another 30 years.