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The Characters Who Dominated the Internet in 2019

“OK boomer.” Illustration: Jim Stoten

The internet is a lot like the ocean — there’s tons of garbage in it, and 90 percent of the species that inhabit it are undiscovered. Internet archetypes are much more varied than they were at the start of the information age, when there was one type of stereotypical internet user (basement dwelling, unclean, probably a dude). Now there exists a whole phylum of user types, each with its own aesthetics and community, building presences on every type of platform. Here, some you might have encountered in 2019.

Too-Online Boomer (top)

Find him on: Facebook
With: A profile picture of himself sitting in his car, wearing sunglasses

Nearly half of American adults receive news via their Facebook News Feed, and it has warped their sense of reality — and older adults, researchers at NYU and Princeton found, share the most fake news. They think Hillary Clinton should be locked up or could still win in 2020. They’d rather get their info via old-school Impact-font memes than from articles composed of sentences. The memes cross the political spectrum and come from pages with names like Rude Republicans Who Hate Snowflakes or Like If You Agree Trump Is Putin’s Boyfriend.


Illustration: Jim Stoten

Find her on: TikTok
With: A scrunchie, a Hydro Flask and a vaguely alt attitude

The VSCO Girl is, at her essence, a teenager who tries very hard to look like she’s not really trying. She wears oversize T-shirts, carries a Hydro Flask water bottle, ties up her hair in a messy bun, rocks a puka-shell necklace, always has extra scrunchies on hand, and frequently applies lip gloss. Her catchphrase is “And I oop” (taken from a drag-queen meme) and her laugh sounds like someone saying “Sksksksksk.

Area 51 Raider

Illustration: Jim Stoten

Find him on: Facebook
With: A detailed plan, to be executed with military precision, for “seeing them aliens”

This past summer, the idea of raiding Nevada’s Area 51 took hold online. It was hypothetical, but also … what if? A Facebook event called Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us attracted 2 million followers (fewer than 200 people actually went). Area 51 raiders developed elite techniques to evade security, like running in the style of anime character Naruto Uzumaki (heavily leaning forward, arms thrust straight back). A raider is probably a big fan of 2019’s ultimate meme song, “Old Town Road.”

Internet Leftist

Illustration: Jim Stoten

Find him on: Twitter
With: A rose emoji next to his name

This is the sort of generalization that would make a Twitter leftist rant online, but they’re essentially hipsters who joined the DSA in November 2016. They know Bernie would have won and often use the term praxis (incorrectly). To them, good praxis is making fun of neoliberals on Twitter. They’re not fond of cops.

Multi-Level Marketer

Illustration: Jim Stoten

Find her on: Facebook
With: A killer limited-time deal on essential oils that will change your life!

These are Facebook friends from high school. It’s not clear if they were ever in any of your classes or you just kinda … knew them? From around? Anyway, they post a lot about selling Young Living essential oils, Rodan+Fields skin care, or LuLaRoe leggings, to name a few. If you’re interested, they could get you started selling essential oils too, and even help you order some?! All you have to do to turn a profit is get ten other people to buy essential oils.


Illustration: Jim Stoten

Find her on: Twitter and Tumblr
With: Hundreds of like-minded people reinforcing her opinion

A “stalker-fan” is an obsessive fan of a celebrity. Stans are fluent in memespeak and are fixated on extremely niche details about their favorite star, whether it’s a pop icon or Baby Yoda.


Illustration: Jim Stoten

Find him on: Twitter
With: Zero knowledge of internet inside jokes

Locals is a derogatory term used by stans to describe the Twitter equivalent of “normies,” people who use the social network but not so much that it has made them jaded or irony poisoned. They’re very earnest. They live-tweet awards shows but are not well versed in the in-group language that stans use as shorthand. They are always re-sharing posts with platitudes about what it means to be a real friend. They nod and say “So true” when they see a really good Minions meme.

Wife Guy

Illustration: Jim Stoten

Find him on: Instagram
With: A grid full of pictures of his wife

At some point, men realized that outwardly showing love to their wives is subversive and that they could score points by doing it. A wife guy is always posting online about how much he supports his wife even if others don’t. He thinks his wife is beautiful even though she doesn’t have the body of a supermodel. He doesn’t deserve credit for doing the bare minimum, but if you offer, he’ll gladly take it.

*A version of this article appears in the December 23, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

The Characters Who Dominated the Internet in 2019