memes

Have You Ever Just Been Like [Map of South America]?

Photo: Screenshot via Twitter

Picture this: You’re having a good time, chatting with someone. Things are going well, so you decide to shoot your shot and get a little flirty. Sure. But then, against all odds, the other person flirts back! Damn! And then you’re all like … [map of South America].

Maybe you’re not quite following me here. Allow this viral tweet from @is_meguca to explain.

Got it? No? You’re still confused, I see. That is understandable — feeling like [map of South America] is not the most relatable feeling in the world — although 22,000 Twitter users (and counting) saw fit to retweet this little one-act play.

Multiple people, including Intelligencer correspondent Madison Malone Kircher, suggested that this was a reference to “Come to Brazil,” the popular catchphrase of Brazilian stans on social media. That was a good guess, but then why include the other countries on the map? (No offense to the other countries of South America, you’re all fantastic.)

Vulture senior editor Jesse David Fox, who writes about comedy, told me, “God, I’m trying to look at this to be an optical illusion.” Not quite.

Editor Ben Williams suggested that it was the “first Dada meme. It’s meaninglessness is a satire of meme culture.” I do not know anything about art history or the Dada movement, so let’s say, “Potentially!”

Over Twitter DM, Laina Farthing, the woman who crafted this confounding post, gave me the answer. “I was just like,,, talking and flirting with someone and I was caught off guard when they did it back,” she wrote. “I had meant to put an entirely different image, one that actually made sense, but I clicked the wrong one and because I don’t proofread my tweets I just posted it as it was.”

She just posted the wrong image. Occam’s razor strikes again. Despite the lack of intent, the post has found a wide audience. This is, after all, a new world, in which the current most-liked Instagram post is a stock photo of an egg. Why can’t we find emotional resonance in a black-and-white map of South America?

Intelligencer editor Ezekiel Kweku explained it thusly: “When someone flirts back with them, they don’t know how to respond.” It’s not like we have a singular, all-encompassing term for that intangible feeling. Maybe the confusion of seeing unexpected South American cartography puts one in the same headspace as when your crush flirts back.

“That kind of very nonsensical humor is exactly my kind of humor, so I was laughing too much to actually delete it, and by the point I was done a bunch of people had already retweeted it,” Farthing said.

Some people enjoyed the nonsense of the post, others tried very hard to decipher it, and a “surprising amount thought it was a picture of Africa,” she said.

Another layer to this mystery is why anyone would have a continental map on their device in the first place. It turns out it was part of a geography game, “where I had my mutuals tell me a name of a country, and I would then put that name where I thought the country was, so I had separate pictures of each continent.” Mystery solved.

Farthing originally intended to attach a picture of Surprised Pikachu, a popular recent reaction image that is exactly what it sounds like. Here is an artist’s reconstruction of what the preconceived tweet might have looked like:

Photo: Brian Feldman

Hopefully, that provides you with some closure. Or maybe you still feel something nagging at you. Maybe you’re just a bit [map of South America].

Have You Ever Just Been Like [Map of South America]?