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What is Gen Z’s Obsession With Icks?

What is Gen Z’s Obsession With Icks?

Rachael Dunphy

Picture it. You’re on a first date with someone you really like. You’re walking, maybe driving, or maybe they’re sitting opposite you over lunch, and panic sets in. They’ve done something you weren’t expecting, something you’d hoped they wouldn’t. An ick, if you will. 

But what is Gen Z’s obsession with icks? According to the internet bible Urban Dictionary, icks have only been around for the last 2-3 years, yet us Gen Z’ers have taken them as gospel. 

What *Actually* Is An Ick?

The ‘ick’ is essentially something that could turn you off a potential romance. The ick can be something as small as the item they order off a menu, to the way they treat you in a situation (which could turn into a ‘red flag’ – a whole different Gen Z dating phenomenon). You could still really like someone, but their actions and attitudes could potentially turn into an ick over time. The ick was brought to our attention by none other than Love Island over five years ago, when Olivia Attwood’s relationship with another islander wasn’t working out. Just like other Love Island lingo (cracking on, bits, and ‘it is what it is’, we’re looking at you).

Why Are We So Obsessed?

But just why is Generation Z so obsessed with the ick? Are we ruining our chances at love, because the person we like used a smiley emoji over a wink emoji? Right now, ‘#theick’ has thousands of videos on TikTok, ranging from personal experiences to imaginary situations. Some stand out ones for us? “A girl running after a ping pong ball”, “A lad wearing his GAA jersey on holidays”, and “Being too friendly”. 

But are we being too harsh when it comes to icks? Surely if you like someone enough, the fact that they pack their Mayo jersey on their Leaving Cert holiday isn’t going to turn you off? 

We’re even seeing more and more talk of icks on tv. Just this month on Love Island, we saw contestants Shaq and Tanya become exclusive, say I love you, and only a matter of days later Tanya confided in the girls to say Shaq had qualities that were ‘giving her the ick’. 

Icks vs. Red Flags

The last few years has introduced the term Red Flag into the dating world, but is it interchangeable with an ick? Most of the time, an ick is something with a personal preference. I might have no problem with someone I fancy having a superhero movie obsession, but to you that might be a major ick.

A Red Flag, on the other hand, could be something that might be a bit more concrete. A lot of the time Red Flags can be glamorised on apps like TikTok, but it’s important to remember if you do spot them, either with the person you’re seeing, or who your friends are, that it’s okay to take a step back and know your own worth. It’s important to make sure when dating that you’re safe, and if you do spot Red Flags, that you talk to someone.

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Do you think Gen Z are blowing icks out of proportion?

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