F- -k It, Meme Think Piece

Photo: @indiemoms/Twitter

A long time ago, before social-media and auto-refreshing feeds took over the internet, there were these things called blogs. “Blog” was short for “weblog,” and it was originally defined as a log of things that people had seen on the web. While the blogging format became more complex and varied, eventually forming a writing style all its own and sometimes serving as its author’s personal diary, the central concept of a blog remained: Blogs aggregated things that its authors had seen elsewhere online.

A hallmark of blogs was a type of post usually known as a “pic dump,” which is short for “picture dump.” The only user-submitted entry for “Picture Dump” on Urban Dictionary, from 2010, defines it as “the act of uploading more than ten photos at one time to any photo or information sharing website.” Sometimes a pic dump is a bunch of pictures that a blogger captured themselves, maybe on a vacation or something. Oftentimes, though, the pic dump is full of funny pictures that the blogger had seen online, culled from various mysterious sources.

Search the platform Blogspot for pic dumps from nearly a decade ago and you’ll find posts full of grainy, poorly compressed jpegs, old Impact-font memes, comedic vignettes, photographs, drawings, and Photoshops that seemingly have no creator. This digital cruft emerged on the internet fully formed, as if it had existed since the dawn of time. The old images would flit between pic dumps, and emails with “FW: FW: FW:” in the subject line, and message-board threads, and ancient image hosts like Photobucket. Those same pictures now appear in Facebook news feeds, their power harnessed by local radio stations and growth hackers looking for viral grist. Pic dumps are clear precursors to meme accounts that now thrive on Instagram — they aggregate funny or weird stuff from around the web (or, really, just Twitter) so that people don’t have to waste time panning the stream for the good stuff.

One thing that should be noted about the pic-dump blog post is that there is usually no rhetorical glue holding these pics together. They share no theme, author, or message. Some are funny, some are captivating, some are impressive, some are weird and inexplicable. In a pic dump, you might scroll through an Advice Animal meme, a boomer-helmed editorial cartoon, a creepshot of something odd happening in a public place, and what we now call a cursed image. There was no need to couch the dumped pics as any type of thing; they spoke for themselves.

This type of posting philosophy is now apparent on social media, in a verbal tic that has grown popular this past fall and winter. The new meme is to just say “Fuck it.”

Social media, with its emphasis on shareability and more atomized posting formats, has altered the way that users go about sharing funny pics on the web. The most viral images (and videos) now rely on emotional packaging. In 2012, BuzzFeed published the megaviral list of “21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.” Reaction images on Tumblrs (and now everywhere) like “What Should We Call Me” weren’t compelling enough on their own; they needed the type of “That feeling when …” caption that gave the image context and resonance.

Media posted to social platforms that didn’t have these types of packaging often had users giving their opinions anyway. “I literally can’t even” someone might write as they post an image macro. “i’m screaMING,” a stan might write about a red-carpet pic of their favorite celeb. Images that were often mundane candids or only slightly peculiar were designated “cursed” to heighten how people react. The captions on social media often tell the viewer how to interpret an image before they can decide for themselves.

Since last fall, however, I noticed a significant rise in what I would call, for self-evident reasons, “Fuck it” memes. These are social-media posts consisting of a media upload and a caption that adheres to a simple formula: “Fuck it [straightforward description of what the viewer is seeing].”

There are countless posts like this. “Fuck it, James Harden humiliating children.” “Fuck it, cat standing.” “Fuck it Korn on da hello kitty boombox.” “Fuck it pigeons sitting down.” “Fuck it. fish playing soccer.

I read these posts in the same cadence Future uses on the chorus of “Mask Off,” as in, “Fuck it, I’m not hiding or pretending. I’m being honest.” The “fuck it” at the start of the post is shorthand. It conveys that the poster is not going to justify why they are sharing something, or explain its significance or its emotional impact. It simply is — whether or not the audience cares is their own decision. The spirit of the pic dump lives on in these memes, which make no attempt to justify their existence.

Similar neutral captions that are in wide use are “Sco pa tu manaa” and “Bomboclaat.” The definition of the former, a Ghanaian nonsense phrase, is debatable (the general consensus is somewhere around “What do you think of this?”), and the latter term is Jamaican slang for “shit rag” (according to a science teacher I had in 2008 who explained it to me and my friends after we heard it used in Grand Theft Auto IV and then said it in class) but has been mistaken as functionally identical to “Sco pa tu manaa.”

One of the most famous “Fuck it” memes is of a pug vibing. Sourced from a TikTok video posted by user @jim71421, the clip of the dancing dog went viral on Twitter as well, after it was set to a New Order track. The caption overlaid on the video, in Impact font, says “Fuck it. Pug vibing to New Order.” Simple, to the point. Other users ran with it. “Fuck it pug vibing to JOTARO’S THEME.” “F*ck it pug vibing to crab rave.” “Fuc it pug vibin to sh boom.” “Fuck it. pug vibing to Bernie’s Eugene V Debs speech.” “Fuck it pug vibing to baba yetu from the civilization IV soundtrack.”

This would explain the uptick in other videos of animals vibing, such as “Fuck it. frog vibing to new order” and “Fuck it, frog vibing to tears for fears.”

The “Fuck it” meme feels most at home in its near-constant use among stans on Twitter, and K-pop stans in particular. The “Fuck it” meme is a perfect fit for these obsessives, who focus on things that anyone less than a stan might not care about. “Fuck it” often precedes a thread on Twitter focusing on the stanned object. Sometimes the threads are superficial (“Fuck it. a thread of lee taeyong looking hot as f*ck“), and sometimes they reveal the deep mental catalogues that these fans have developed (“Fuck it. changbin as tupperware thread” compares the Korean rapper to … pictures of Tupperware).

On Stan Twitter, “Fuck it” has become a signal of being a part of the in-group. It allows the users to, in short order, refuse to justify their post to outsiders, and hint at its silliness or arbitrary nature. There truly is no reason for this stuff, and that’s the appeal.

F- -k It, Meme Think Piece