What is Gen Z?
Gen Z is the generation born right between Generation Y (millennials) and Generation Alpha. Also known as digital natives, doomers, or even Zoomers, this generation is quickly making their mark through their off-beat sense of humor.
What is Gen Z humor?
It is dark, often self-deprecating, with a touch of nihilism that is reflective of the events that have shaped their growth. Though it may seem as if their humor is childish, there is actually more to it than meets the eye.
Why is Gen Z’s humor so dark and broken?
The reason why Gen Z’s humor is so dark and broken is that this form of nihilistic humor is a form of coping mechanism. It is also a reflection of current social issues and how their mental health is being affected by various looming threats.
Gen Z has also gone through many impactful global events. Many were born just before or after the tragedy of 9/11. They grew up faced with political turmoil and worsening climate change. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict which affected a few formative years for their generation.
So while Gen Z stereotypes might make it seem as if they share very dark humor jokes and that they’re making light of very serious situations, this isn’t quite the case. Instead of being all doom and gloom as the world teeters toward end times, these kids choose laughter as a way to keep going even through difficulties. This is best seen in the media they create, particularly the memes — which sometimes just do not make much sense, like this one:
The popularity and cultural impact of which have even been compared to the Dadaism movement. It is similarly surreal in nature, but still in line with Gen Z’s nihilistic humor.
Still not sure about Gen Z humor? Here are some examples that might help you visualize things better.
Gen Z Humor Memes
It’s safe to say that Gen Z has one of the most surreal sense of humor out of all the generations. This is clear in their memes, which deserve their own field of study considering how complex some can be. It takes a certain degree of knowledge of the inside jokes that Gen Z around the world share to understand and appreciate these memes.
Below are some examples:
1. This is Fine
When it comes to Gen Z memes, This is Fine best represents the generation’s attitude to all the difficulties they are faced with. The meme features an anthropomorphic dog who is trying to reassure himself that everything is fine – even as everything around him burns. The panel is from a webcomic by K.C. Green, which was published back in 2013.
How to use this meme: If you have experienced a string of unlucky events to the point of feeling indifferent, use this meme to express that.
2. I Believe in _____ Supremacy
— arron (@arr0nn) April 19, 2022
Even though our next meme can be traced back to an online BDSM community, it has since been edited and used in various contexts, such as within fandoms. By using this meme template, you are essentially saying that you’re “bowing down” or “worshiping” something. It could be a celebrity, your favorite character, or even a concept.
To fully appreciate this meme, knowing the inside joke is necessary, though we’re sure that those who get millennial humor might understand it as well.
How to use this meme: Let’s say you’re currently obsessed with Beyoncé’s newest album. You can say “I Believe in Renaissance Supremacy” and then replace the photo on the left side of the meme with the album’s cover. Any Gen Z will immediately grasp the extent of your obsession at a glance.
3. sPonGeBob mOckING mEMe
Also known as Spongemock, this meme features an image macro of the popular cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants with a mocking expression on its face. The image is a screenshot from the show’s episode where Spongebob acts like a chicken. In true Gen Z humor fashion, this image is often used to express one’s disdain or disagreement toward another’s point of view or opinion.
How to use this meme: If you’re bantering with friends on social media or in a group chat, you can send them this meme to make fun of something they said or express your disagreement in a humorous way.
4. Doge Meme
The Gen Z slang “doge” often pertains to the Shiba Inu breed with interior monologue captioning edited over it in Comic Sans. One of the most popular doge images originated from Japanese kindergarten teacher Atsuko Sato who posted photos of her dog Kabosu on her personal blog.
Because of the dog’s peculiar expression, it quickly went viral and spread globally. Doge is one of those absurd memes that can be very difficult to explain. Aside from understanding inside jokes, you also have the share the same broken humor that Gen Z does.
How to use this meme: This can be used in different contexts, but it’s best for showing that you are suspicious of someone’s actions or words, in a funny manner.
5. Confused Cat at Dinner Table
This next Gen Z meme is known by multiple names, but most would recognize it as the Confused Cat at Dinner or Woman Yelling at Cat Meme. It originated from Tumblr and was first posted in 2008.
The original features a white cat sitting at a dinner table with a plate of veggies in front of them– their confused expression is the highlight of the entire thing. After being included in a template featuring The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, it quickly gained pop culture and social media prominence.
How to use this meme: If you want to tell someone off, such as one of your best friends for returning to their ex, you can send them this meme along with a caption specific to the situation.
6. Little Miss Memes
little miss is me pic.twitter.com/dWRSg49bX9
— mariah (taylor’s version) (@alltooriah) July 12, 2022
Nothing can beat Gen Z humor when it comes to self-awareness and self-expression, and this is proven by the currently trending Little Miss Memes. It features the covers of Mr. Men and Little Miss children’s books but is recaptioned to reflect different personalities or “red flags” (elements of one’s personality that are considered flaws or negative traits that can affect others).
How to use this meme: For this, simply choose a cover you like and add your own “red flag” to it.
7. Bernie Sanders Wearing Mittens
Though they may seem indifferent, Gen Z humor can be quite political when needed. In fact, they can be credited for pulling big pranks, including “sinking” a Trump rally back in 2020. This next meme features Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders during Joe Biden’s inauguration. Wearing an outfit that stood out from the very formal crowd, he quickly caught people’s eyes and has since been photoshopped into every possible scenario.
You can also count this as part of boomer humor memes, as it also showcases the “older” generation’s ability to make fun of themselves.
How to use this meme: The more random the situation you photoshop this image of Bernie Sanders in, the better.
8. Sasuke Choke Edits
When it comes to exploitable images (basically images that can be edited and used in a hilariously different context), anime is one of the most popular genres. The ‘Sasuke Choke’ or ‘Choking Sasuke’ meme features Sasuke and Itachi from the Naruto series.
Since it first popped up in 2019, it has been used in countless combinations with Sasuke appearing to be choked by different pop culture personalities – as well as cats. Given the reference, we can consider this part of millennial jokes as well.
How to use this meme: Much like the Bernie Sanders meme, you can edit this template to any situation that fits. The more different the media, the funnier it will be.
9. TikTok E-Boy
You’ve probably heard of the E-Girl aesthetic, but are you familiar with the TikTok E-Boy meme? These are videos popular on the social media site where users would transform themselves into an E-boy or “flex” their E-boy style. It typically used the song “Chamber of Reflection” by Mac Demarco as a background song. This could either be cool or cringe, because some Gen Z kids like this style while there are those who don’t.
How to use this meme: This meme is more of a trend that you can copy on TikTok. To do it, you simply take a TikTok video of yourself in normal clothes before switching to ones in the E-boy aesthetic.
10. Skinny Girl Walking Sideways
This meme originated from TikTok user @mnmnooxx0, who posted a video of her side-stepping in between two other people to show how skinny she is. While meant to be more of a flex, many users began to parody her videos– showing just how random Gen Z humor can actually be. The original user has since deleted all of her videos, but this meme remains popular on other social media platforms.
How to use this meme: To use this meme means you’ll have to parody it. You can side-step between two people, but with as much space as you need for example. The fun lies in how you change things up.
Gen Z Slang Guide
For Gen Y/millennials, we had what’s known as 1337 speak or textspeak. These were used as a way of adapting to the limitations created by character limits when text messaging. It was funny, sure, but quite different from Gen Z’s slang.
Kids these days repurpose existing words in a manner that’s both disconnected yet still vaguely connected to their original meaning.
Here are some examples:
1. Ok, Boomer.
Gen X have been ripping on boomers since forever and they never paid attention. Millennials dismiss them with ok boomer and they shit their depends. don’t get it
— one sorry Canadian (@PalaSand50) November 4, 2019
Have you ever had an online beef (argument) with someone younger and as a clap back (retort) they told you “Ok, Boomer”? This phrase is often used whenever someone older starts their rants with “When I was your age” or “Back in my day…”, which undermines the fact that times have changed and what worked back then no longer applies today. Tired of constantly explaining, most Gen Z would just respond with this.
Tip: If you’re a Baby Boomer (or an aging millennial), the use of this slang does not apply to you. Sorry. Only Gen Z or Generation Alpha can really use this with proper context.
just found out I ratio’d someone today pic.twitter.com/UaEVU4Uncu
— jodie (@jodieegrace) March 28, 2021
Next up, we have this popular Gen Z slang often used on social media platforms such as Twitter. When people say you have been “ratioed”, it just means that your original has received more replies than likes. While this sounds like a good thing, receiving more replies often means that there are a lot of people disagreeing with you in the comments. Being “ratioed” is kind of like being pointed out that you’ve been outnumbered and your opinion/post is not very well-received (yikes).
This can also be used when someone replies “ratio” to a post and receives more likes than the original.
3. Poggers or PogChamp
I LOVE SOUTHERN FLANNEL MOTHS THEY’RE SO CUTE
MOTHS ARE SO FUCKING POGGERS pic.twitter.com/Zm5PUWftkT
— JCRev 🦖🦕 (@JCRev4) July 19, 2022
Millennials had the word “epic” or “iconic” when it comes to describing things they think are really cool. Gen Z, as well as Generation Alpha, have the term poggers. This slang word first originated on the platform Twitch and is used to express enthusiasm over something. Pogchamp is a variation of the word, though it can also be used to describe someone or something that is very cool.
— The Reel RapNerd 🎃🦇 (@TheReelRapNerd) July 22, 2022
You won’t need those “I hate my life memes” when you have a good drip. This slang word means the same thing as swag and pertains to someone stylish or someone who enjoys fashion. Aside from drip, you can also use sauce, steez, and swank to describe the same thing.
congrats man🤙🏼 lost to u but its all gucci❤️
— B4nz (@Clxjr_9) July 25, 2022
Like its namesake fashion house, the Gen Z slang Gucci describes something that is great or awesome. If someone asks how you are, you can reply with “It’s all Gucci”.
Associated with it is the meme Gucci Gang. In another brilliant example of broken Gen Z humor, this inside joke is based on a song by Lil Pump. Despite mostly repeating just those two words over and over again, the song hit double platinum during its peak.
— shesthatforeign🛸 (@shesthat4oreign) July 24, 2022
Sheesh may often be mistaken for meaning the same as yikes, but this isn’t so. It is an alternative to the expression “daaaaamn” and is quite a flexible interjection. You can use it if you’re surprised by something or if you find something to be amazing.
7. Canceled / Cancelled
James Charles is getting cancelled as we speak?! Let’s discuss wtf is going on https://t.co/xlXNC7Dc0y
— antphrodite [Psychic] (@antphrodite) April 1, 2021
Given its popularity and the controversy that surrounds cancel culture, it isn’t surprising to find this slang word being used in boomer humor memes as well. In pop culture, to cancel someone means that they are being made irrelevant on social media because of their involvement in a scandal. What started out as mere Gen Z humor has become more toxic due to the mob mentality that online users have when it comes to “canceling” someone.
Millennials have ballers, while Gen Z has the boujee. This refers to people who are rich or have an expensive feeling about them. It can also be used to describe someone who has great drip and chooses only the best for themselves. You can also use this word when pertaining to something that is considered more luxurious than the average or an upgrade of something basic. For example, Magnum is the boujee version of a popsicle stick.
Why are some fans of KCorp so salty with us? I don’t get it, it’s not our fault KC isn’t in LEC yet.
I would love to have them in LEC and I’m pretty sure that is happening sooner than later. We wait you with open hands.
— Jorge ‘Werlyb’ (@werlyb) July 27, 2022
People have used the terms sour grape and bitter to describe a sore loser who harbors resentment over a loss. The term salty, on the other hand, pertains to someone who is upset and displaying a repulsive attitude over a small matter.
For example, boomers might get mad at “young people” for always being on their phones and Gen Z would think they are simply being “salty” over the whole thing.
10. Catch These Hands
Covids gonna catch these hands if Iman has it https://t.co/h6qphj9ze1
— Iman Vellani Updates (@ImanVellaniEn) July 27, 2022
When someone warns you to stop before you “catch hands” or “catch these hands”, you should follow them immediately. These slang words mean that they are initiating a fight and are ready to give you a beating. This meme is also related to “These hands are rated E for everything”, which basically means the same thing. The next time you hear this, you may want to bolt. Or stay, and let your opponent “catch (your) hands” instead.
11. Yas Kween! / Yas Queen!
— Miss Universe (@MissUniverse) December 17, 2018
As we’ve established, Gen Z humor and slang often take known words and give them an entirely meaning depending on the context it is used in. “Yas Kween!” is a good example of that. It is often used to express happiness and agreement, but can also be used to cheer and encourage someone on. You may want to add this to your list of Halloween memes too, since the next time someone turns up looking amazing at a Halloween party, “Yas Kween” is very appropriate.
“and in this scene i need you to slay” pic.twitter.com/bp1lsFdqFp
— zhi | austin butler apologist (@austinscherry) July 21, 2022
Gen Z memes can be quite twisted, but turning a word with dark connotations into something fun? Well, only they can achieve that. The slang term “slay” is often used when someone has done really well on something– basically “nailed it” or “killing it”. It is a form of praise reserved for someone who has done exceedingly well at something or pulled off an outfit. An example would be “You totally slayed that performance” or “ You slayed that outfit!”. It can also be used with or in place of “Yas kween!” to hype or cheer someone up.
Can you imagine hearing it for the first time in this context? You’d probably think that someone was about to commit a crime!
April Steph the GOAT pic.twitter.com/rHw26BLRpP
— ³⁰ (@StephMuse_) July 27, 2022
This is an acronym for “Greatest Of All Time”. It’s similar to “Yas Kween” and “Slay” but only reserved for the best of the best. You’d hear Gen Zs often using it in the context of praising the best athletes, musicians, and public figures in general. For example, “Usain Bolt is the GOAT of 100m sprints”.
14. Understood the Assignment
It was Sabrina Carpenter’s first Met Gala and she understood the assignment. pic.twitter.com/1idWNLE8xt
— Raven Brunner (@raventbrunner) May 3, 2022
If you’ve been on Twitter, you would not have missed this Gen Z slang. “Understood the assignment” is a way of praising someone who has done well and beyond what was expected of them. It is a stamp of approval, much like how a teacher would praise a student for their in-depth understanding of their assignment that they scored with flying colors.
Usually, you’d see this slang used to praise actors who have the dexterity and versatility in playing any character. Anyone who is dressed well for a theme party, like the Met Gala, or anyone that had the perfect clap back can also be said to have “understood the assignment”. That said, this is not limited to public figures, so if you think someone cooked up an excellent dish for a dinner party, they very much. understood the assignment too.
15. Glow Up
Ok but the glow up is immaculate pic.twitter.com/hi7QWx2QkW
— Anne♡💫|| wating for sm 4??? (@Komstupidkru) March 8, 2022
When people say you have a “glow” about you, it means that you’ve become more beautiful. Glow up has a deeper meaning, however, and describes the way a person has transformed mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Glow-ups can be planned or they can happen naturally. As long as all three aspects of the transformation have been ticked off, then one can consider it a glow-up. You can also use it to describe someone who rose from the bottom to the top. So the next time you hear a Gen Z using “glow up” on you, you know that you’re doing something right in your life.
A doomer is a male who falls within the millennial generation and Gen Z and is experiencing hardship. As a result, their mental health has worsened and they have become loners. They also hold very jaded and cynical beliefs about the world, and would often project this self-hate onto other people, especially women.
Doomers are often associated with the incel, who is equally misogynistic and openly attacks women online. You’d definitely want to avoid being called a doomer.
Some might say that YEET is a term that can be used for just about anything. However, in its original context, this describes something that is being thrown at a high velocity. For example, you can yeet a soda can into a trash bin, or you can also use it in a situation where you want to escape from and say “I am going to YEET out of here” However, it can also be used as an expression to acknowledge something. Not quite a yes or a no, it means something neutral like “I hear you”. Yes, there are different meanings to this four-letter word.
In Florida you don’t have to use a turn signal if you yell “Skrrt” loud enough
— trevor (@dontlookatmesir) May 31, 2017
If anyone can make onomatopoeia an actual word, it’s Gen Z. Skrrt (specifically, only two ‘r’s and one ‘t’) is slang that supposedly mimics the sound of screeching cars when it comes to a sudden halt. Gen Zs use this as an interjection in an attempt to escape from responsibilities, or an awkward situation, like “YEET”.
But, “skrrt” can also mean to put a halt to something, almost like saying “hold up one second”. For example, if someone is gossiping, you can use skrrt to get your friend to repeat themselves one more time for clarity or just to relive the whole juiciness of the gossip.
Fun fact, “skrrt” became popular because of the rise of trap songs, which usually contain “skrrt”.
boys just don’t simp the way they used to
— gaia. (@gaialect) July 27, 2022
What is a simp? If you’ve ever been referred to as a simp, this means that you are doing “too much” for someone you find attractive even if they aren’t returning your feelings. This means you’re trading in your own dignity just to please that person. When you are called a simp, it is well, generally, not good since many perceive simps to have been stripped of their dignity due to their eagerness to please their crushes.
20. Low key/High Key
I highkey love being alone 💀
— jade🦂 (@jadeee_skylarrr) August 27, 2020
Before you ask, no, these are not referring to the musical keys or lighting styles. “Low key” and “high key” are used as adverbs, usually meant to describe a person’s feeling towards something/someone. “Low key” refers to being “quiet” or “restrained” and in Gen Z slang, it means you’d want to keep your feelings low profile, subtle, for fear of being judged. For example, being low-key about having a crush on someone or “ I am low-key a sucker for romance novels.” And on the flip side, “high key” means openly expressing your excitement (for the whole world to know apparently).
Nothing is Safe When it Comes to Gen Z Humor
And that is the thing that makes it truly hilarious. From politicians to cartoon characters, Gen Z has a way of twisting things that will leave you thinking. It is highly influenced by their own experiences growing up in societies that care little for mental health, thus leaving them to develop coping mechanisms by themselves.
There is also the lingering thought of having an uncertain future, where the only thing that could stave off the anxiety is to make fun of it. This “we’re all dying anyway, might as well get a few laughs out of it” mentality isn’t for general consumption, but for those who can relate – the jokes are gold. For that, Gen Z certainly deserves applause.
Looking for more laughs? These funny memes are exactly what the doctor prescribed.