We’ve been holding out our thumbs to show a positive and approving attitude for a considerable period, now. Sometimes, as a cute or helpless way of posing for pictures and most times as an efficient manner of saving ourselves the redundancy of repeating the words associated so strongly with this hand gesture like It’s all okay, cool, done, yes, alright, etc.
We’ve internalized this hand signal into our lifestyles both as social consumers and as individuals, to the extent that we even have a ‘like button’ on social media designed with an upwardly held thumb. We show that we like something with a thumbs up, both on social media and in real life – in fact, our propped-up thumbs are our own portable like buttons!
The thumbs-up sign has influenced our lives in both the best and the worst of ways. But have you ever thought, why though? Why this strange gesture. What’s so approving about it. Read on to know more about the thumbs-up sign, what the emoji 👍 means, how it affects your conversations online, and how you can use it correctly.
Meaning of 👍
The 👍 Thumbs Up emoji is optimistic. Everything about this symbol evokes agreement, acceptance, and endorsement. It’s a hand gesture that’s used – both in real life and virtually, to convey that you like something and approve of it.
The opinionated symbolism of the thumbs-up emoji has also become the sigil of weighing the odds on various social media platforms. The 👍 emoji has come to mean more than just a translated hand gesture. It’s a sign of encouragement, a fashion of showing support, and an aid for improved credibility- aka the like button.
Is 👍 a Positive Hand Sign and Emoji?
In most use-cases, yes! However, only the context can decide.
The thumbs-up gesture is often paired with pleasing responses such as Cool! Great! Awesome. Okay. Alright. or Done. It’s used to end both real-life and virtual conversations on a good and promising note. This gesture is a positive sign in most countries and is hardly spiteful.
The 👍 thumbs-up emoji works the same way too. Both the gesture and the emoji suggest favorability as they’re positively fueled by personal preferences. The amount of liking towards something/someone represented by this hand sign is what makes the gesture and the inspired emoji optimistic.
BUT. There are always exceptions.
Different countries and cultures have different values and ideas. Just like how most of the world hails the 👍 thumbs-up gesture as a harmless hand signal, some parts of the world like the Middle East find it particularly offensive and rude. A thumbs-up hand, in such countries, is equated to the vulgarity of the 🖕 Middle Finger in other countries.
Therefore, the seemingly innocuous 👍 can contextually be a negative sign, sometimes.
History of the Thumbs-Up Gesture 👍
The exact origin of the thumbs-up hand gesture is unknown, but the earliest recorded and verified usage of the hand sign is rather a morbid memory in history. It goes back to ancient Rome when the thumbs-up response from the audience witnessing a combatant’s battle was taken as a signal to let the loser go, whereas the thumbs-down sign was a deadly indication to finish the defeated. Kill, in other words.
Thankfully, the thumbs-up sign eventually earned a soberer significance. It became the gesture of Go! Yes! It’s all cool and even a manner of meaning that something’s working. It also became the OG way of asking for a ride – the iconic “hitchhiker’s thumb” or the hitchhike hand.
Even in situations of complimenting something or someone 👍 has so far been the most fruitful and apt gesture for the moment. It always does the job, gracefully and with dignity. The thumbs-up sign has and is unquestionably a powerful, versatile, and elegant hand gesture.
What 👍 Means Online
Online, specifically on social media, the thumbs-up signal is the icon of the ‘like button’. If you’re not very acquainted with social media or the button, here’s what it means – liking.
If you were to convey, in an instant, that you like something on your social media feed, then you would click/tap on the like button just below a Facebook post. On Instagram, that ‘like’ is eased out by double-tapping a post or clicking the heart symbol below the post. YouTube has this button as well – just below the video. You can also see the number of people who’ve liked the video (and post, on other platforms). And these are just three of the many social media platforms with this button.
The like button, which began as a symbol of showing preferences, online, has now become a symbol of healthy competition amongst content creators. Alongside being a wonderful way of exercising the freedom of expression and opinion, virtually, it has also been woven quite closely into the content creator’s fabric of making some money or a living as well.
But, here’s what’s tragic.
Common folk, aka non-content-creators, have also been obsessing, not to mention, unhealthily and aggressively over the like button for quite a while now. It has become a toxic compulsion on social media to recheck oneself based on the number below this button. It’s no longer just a button for showcasing and consuming opinion, but it has, in turn, become a button of validation, self-esteem, self-image, and mental wellness too.
Now, that’s some nasty amount of power we’ve given this hand sign, online. It’s not all bad, but it’s not all good either. Fortunately, the like button is miles away from the non-violent 👍 thumbs-up emoji.
How to Use 👍 Correctly?
With emojis, it’s always all about the context. Even the most positive emoji can be misunderstood if sent wrongly, with the wrong text message, in the wrong situation, and with the wrong virtual timing. So, it’s essential to apply the emoji in the aptest manner possible. Here, are some neutral, objective, and subjective ways you can use the 👍 thumbs-up emoji.
Use 👍 to show approval
Approval, as an act, can be both neutral and subjective. Though it’s mostly the outcome of a personal point of view, it can also stem from a place of obligation – and 👍 can be used in both situations.
- Hey. Do you think this message will work?
Yeah, sure. Looks great. They will like it 👍
- Let’s go ahead with the plan! 👍
- I’m not entirely sure how they’d react, but I agree with you 👍
Use 👍 to express accomplishment
You could be accomplishing anything when you use 👍 and it would work just the same. Be it understanding a paragraph, writing it, publishing it, or even successfully becoming famous for it – 👍 works, while conveying it all. However, for this use case, it’s ideal to have a formal conversation. It can get weird on personal chats – generally speaking.
- Yes, done. Got it 👍
- Wow. The technique worked. Thanks 👍
- Yep. It’s all complete 👍
As opposed to – Yes, mom. We just completed our exams 👍
Use 👍 to express encouragement
Genuine encouragement may come from a place that isn’t attached, but, it could also come from a place of selflessness. We tend to encourage someone irrespective of whether the goal works for us or not – the objective here is what works for the other person. And 👍 is a nice and neutral emoji to communicate that selfless encouragement.
- That’s awesome! Go for it, mate! 👍
- I think you should give it a chance 👍
- It wouldn’t hurt to try, buddy. Go, on! Do it! 👍
Use 👍 as a positive RSVP response
Given the number of options an RSVP demands, 👍 is the most informingly straightforward way to communicate if you need the reservation or not.
- Hey, man. You’re coming right?
- …and tonight’s plans?
I’m in 👍
Use 👍 to show preferences
Going back to the original digital meaning of the thumbs-up sign, 👍 can be applied to show that you personally like something. Subjectivity is at its best here – you’re assumingly conveying genuine and positive opinions of something. This inclination grows from a personal viewpoint.
- What do you think about these shoes?
Nah. I liked the previous ones better 👍
- I’ll go with the first option 👍
- It’s nice, man 👍
Use 👍 to recommend
Virtually, we depend on a lot of reviewing before we get any close to a product or service. If you’re texting someone the positives of either or if you’re posting something about it, then 👍 would be the perfect emoji to show recommendation. It creates a two-fold layer of approval – one that’s based on your individual preference and positive experience and two, your decision to suggest the same for others.
- This is an incredible journey. We totally recommend it 👍
- Oh, dude. It’s super afforable. Try it 👍
What Does it Mean When Someone Sends 👍?
Based on the right way to use the 👍 thumbs up emoji, it’s fairly easy to decipher what this emoji means when it reaches you in a conversation.
Firstly, 👍 means someone likes, supports, and approves of what you’re saying or showing on text. It’s the most objective way of decoding this emoji in a textual chat. The thumbs-up is a signal of agreement and hence, this emoji is plainly an honest symbol used to convey the same. The other person agrees with what you send on chat. For example,
I was thinking if we could call for a meeting regarding this.
They agree to the proposal/suggestion.
However. The 👍 thumbs-up emoji is NOT to be mistaken for the ‘like button’ though they’re both the same icons. The ‘like button’ is a definitive way of showing one’s liking towards something/someone, and with 👍 that’s not always the case – because all liking originates from agreeableness and not all agreeableness, from liking.
So, when someone sends 👍, it’s safer not to assume they personally like the plan because they agree to it – unless the context says so.
What do you think about this?
Yeah, I like it 👍
Now, this is an undoubted use-case of 👍 as a “like button/symbol”.
Should I go ahead with it?
Here, 👍 is used as a Cool, Okay, Yes, or Go button. It’s a symbol of approval that not necessarily arises from personal likes and dislikes.
On the whole, when someone sends 👍, it’s a positive sign. They’re all up for what you’re saying – objectively or subjectively.
What Does it Mean When Someone Sends Multiple 👍?
The most used number of the thumbs-up emoji is two – 👍👍. This is a way of virtually symbolizing a thumbs-up on both the person’s hands. It suggests double the approval, agreement, preference, or even recommendation. If someone’s sending you more than two 👍 emoji, it could either mean they’re incredibly supportive of the context or that they’re hardly paying attention to what’s happening on chat.
Apart from the 👍 thumbs-up emoji, there are other single-hand emojis, where the thumb does the talking or at least half of it. The thumb, in these emojis, especially, determines what the emoji and the hand gesture mean. Here’s a glimpse of those emojis.
The immediate sibling of the 👍 thumbs-up emoji is the thumbs-down emoji. It’s evidently the opposite. A thumbs-down is a sign of disapproval, disagreement, disappointment, and a way of showing that the person is against something and is unsupportive of it. 👎 is also meant as a ‘No’.
The 👌 OK hand has been used extensively in real life to indicate that all is going well, something’s looking great, or even that something or someone’s okay. Like the 👍 thumbs-up emoji, the OK hand too, is a positive sign. It’s a reassuring symbol, as well. However, each gesture has its amount of disregard in some countries, and that list includes 👌.
We couldn’t small talk without the thumb in the 🤏 pinching hand. It’s the finger that defines a lessening variable. This hand gesture, online, often has a hilarious connotation for the proportion it signifies – just a little. It could also be what the name suggests – a pinching hand – a hand that’s out there to cause physical agony, a little at a time.
Also known as the ‘shaka sign’, the 🤙 call me hand emoji is one of the most perceived cool hand gestures of all time. It’s the sign of keeping things real, making or receiving a phone call if you were in the early 2000s – which is what gave this gesture the flirtiness we know today, and this hand sign is also a handshake in countries like Hawaii. In fact, we got it from Hawaii.
The thumb in this hand gesture is what sets this sign apart, both in real life and digitally. If the thumb were to be folded, an innocent non-verbal cue of love would turn over to become the 🤘 Sign of the Horns. So the thumb is the establishing factor of this global hand gesture that’s so fondly used.
The 👍 thumbs-up emoji is a positive sign until it’s made otherwise. It’s a polite gesture in most parts of the world – therefore it communicates polite and feel-good responses full of approval and support.
The thumbs-up emoji can be used in various situations to convey different but positive responses. It’s the ideal emoji to show compliance contextually. However, 👍 could go wrong if used in the wrong contexts, and if applied ignorantly and without genuine meaning in a conversation.