As the human species relies less and less on our actual faces and mouth-holes to communicate, emojis have taken on a crucial role in helping us convey just how goddamned annoyed we are at our friends, family members, significant others, co-workers, landlords, and anybody else deserving of our fake politeness.
As easy as they are to fire off, passive-aggressive emojis can be infuriatingly obnoxious to receive. Still, when used skillfully, they're a pretty satisfying way to call someone out without them really catching on. Let's explore the 15 most passive-aggressive emojis and all their delightfully juvenile use cases.
Upside-Down Smiley is the embodiment of passive-aggression: seemingly friendly until you take a closer look. You receive this emoji when you've inadvertently pissed someone off, or inconvenienced them, but they're too immature to directly explain the situation. It is usually followed by a cheerful "No problem!" or "Thanks!" Oh, so you're upset I texted you "happy birthday" too late in the day? I didn't quite pick up on that from your confusing-ass upside-down, yellow-headed response.
The Peace Sign
The Peace Sign comes out when the person you've been texting feels fed up, or ignored, or otherwise exasperated by the way you're communicating with them -- which happens shockingly often through texting. The Peace Sign is basically one big "eff you" designed to make you feel guilty or provoke an argument. Typical responses may include a string OF WORDS IN ALL-CAPS LIKE "I'M SORRY I DON'T LOOK AT MY PHONE EVERY TWO TO THREE MINUTES LIKE SOME PEOPLE" which significantly worsens the whole situation and leaves everyone stewing. It’s quite ironic, because that's, like… the opposite of peace, ya know?
When your BFF's got drama to discuss, or wants you to confirm if her Instagram caption is good, or brings you into a group chat to help formulate her text messages, Head-Rub Girl's like: "I'm going to pretend to listen to your idiocy because I'm your friend, but I literally can't with this." In fact, Head-Rub Girl "literally couldn't" so many times that it gave her an aneurysm and now she spends 100% of her time at home having the blood massaged out of her brain.
This one straddles the line between passive-aggressive and just plain mean, but it certainly gets one's point across. ZZZ -- you know, the sound you make when you're sleeping -- is the ideal emoji for when people text you meaningless life updates that they think you are interested in hearing. You know the kinds of texts -- or even worse, Facebook statuses -- I'm talking about: "My boyfriend's niece just turned 5 today" or "They ran out of butter at Denny's." So bored I could die, ugh.
We've all had awkward text exchanges with friends about money. Money Flying is how freeloaders respond to messages that begin with "Hey do you mind if I Venmo you for..." It's a particularly obnoxious emoji to receive -- I mean, c'mon man, you owe me money, don't be a damn baby about it. But on the other side of the sausage, if someone really wants to be reimbursed for a $4 Blime they ordered for me on my literal birthday, I reserve the right to passive-aggressively express my displeasure.
A highly satisfying emoji to shoot back at someone who says and does things that could only be described as "philistine in nature." Whether they're putting the wrong "there" in a sentence or sharing something on Facebook that is blatantly false/idiotic, Schoolhouse lets you showcase your discontent without directly engaging them. In all likelihood, they won't even pick up on it!
People sarcastically use the thumbs-up in real life to express their low-key aggression, so it's not surprising that this little nugget of hostility has carried over into the digital realm. Still, is it just me, or do these people lack creativity? Thumbs-Up (or, alternatively, the OK Hand) is pretty lackluster, kinda like saying "NO DUH" or using air quotes in conversation. Next.
Look, only assholes use this emoji, and it usually makes you feel terrible about yourself. Why? Because nothing in life is "100 points" -- maybe scoring a hole-in-one in mini-golf whilst winning the lottery during the aurora borealis, but how often does that happen? No, 100 Points is a subtle nod at your inadequacy, like Clapping Hands but worse -- some dickhead's passive-aggressive way of saying "Nice try, buddy" or "Way to follow through... not."
Cool Button is pretty passive-aggressive, to be sure, but it's not the most offensive tool in the shed. You can almost hear "cool" in your head when you get one of these things. "Oh, you can't go out tonight because you're too tired? Cool." You deserve to be called out, but we're still friends. I guess. For now.
Anytime you disagree with anybody about anything political ever, might I suggest melting their mind with the subtle majesty of the stars and stripes. It will greatly confuse them as to what your intentions are. Is it an olive branch, a recognition of your shared values, a patriotic reminder that your right to disagree is what makes America so beautiful? Or are you planting this flag so far up their ass, you hope it gets stuck and infected? Is it passive, or is it aggressive? Dunno, man. America is complicated.
Scratching Chin Guy
Guess how much time Scratching Chin Guy has set aside for you and your nonsense? If you guessed "none," you win. Scratching Chin Guy is the antithesis of the phrase "there are no dumb questions." There are many dumb questions, and declarative sentences alike. Scratching Chin Guy is gonna do you the courtesy of pretending to consider what you've just said -- but not really, because he's immediately judged it as irrelevant and stupid and can't be deigned to respond. Scratching Chin Guy has already moved on.
Man, people love avocados, right? And by people I mean white girls in gentrified Brooklyn, when said avocado's on gluten-free toast with a poached egg and a side of mimosa. But there are many who are tired of this glorified rock and see it for what it really is: a sign of being basic and kind of out-of-touch. This newcomer will grace our emoji boards any day now when iOS 10.2 drops. Don't be surprised if you get hit with the Avocado the next time you express desire for a Pumpkin Spice Latte or mention how much you love the new Coldplay single.
Ahh, Shruggy Bird. He's one of the most underrated emojis of all time because he can convey so much emotion. Is he confused? Is he irreverent? Does he give a flying heck about anything? Who knows? And it is Shruggy Bird's mystifying stance that makes him so infuriating for others to receive. Shruggy Bird says "Hehe, I don't think I care," and looks damn cute doing it -- upon closer inspection, he's obviously a mentally cracked nihilist.
The Squirt Gun
Seeing as the real gun emoji has been discontinued, the Squirt Gun is now the castrated, passive-aggressive version of what was once a no-nonsense way to express your hostility. You may not realize the connotations behind this thing, because it’s so new, but ending up on the business end of a text housing the Squirt Gun emoji suggests you’re just as weak and ineffective and childish and pathetic as a squirt gun. So, yeah, what I'm trying to say is that people should express their anger with real guns.
Oh, this sneaky little bastard. The thing about Poop Face is that people really, really love it. It's like the Meryl Streep of emojis. But you know what Poop Face is, really? A giant, soggy slap in the face. Much like Upside-Down Smiley, he looks nice, but he's actually a pile of shit. When you screw someone over, flake on plans, steal a guy's gal, and then take the time to sincerely apologize, they might hit you with the Poop Face -- as if to say "You hurt me bro, but I forgive you, here's Poop Face!" But you know what they're really saying. Deep down. You know.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.