From time to time, and especially if you’re a fan of science fiction, you may have had the thought that nobody around you is actually real. That sentiment has taken root in anti-progressive parts of the internet as a dehumanizing meme, and it borrows some familiar gaming terminology.
About a month ago, a along those lines took root on 4chan and among anti-progressive online communities. It’s called the NPC meme and it goes like this: Out there in the world, there are literal NPCs—the term for non-playable characters in video games—who have no internality whatsoever. There are some giveaways, of course. They spit out canned lines—“Good weather today, huh?”—and flock to normie trends (are Ugg boots still a thing?) and, for the most part, share the same uncritical worldview. The classic melancholy meme Wojak, a sad man crudely drawn in Microsoft paint, has now received the NPC treatment with NPC Wojak:
Part crackpot social theory and part elementary school insult, the NPC meme originated from a deeply comical medley of bogus physics and stupid religion found on the messaging board 4Chan. Originally posted in 2016, it resurfaced last month. “I have a theory that there are only a fixed quantity of souls on planet Earth that cycle continuously through reincarnation,” a 4Chan poster wrote. “However, since the human growth rate is so severe, the soulless extra walking flesh piles around us are NPC’s [sic], or ultimate normalfags, who autonomously follow group think and social trends in order to appear convingly human.” NPCs aren’t even worthy of a classic wake up, sheeple. They can’t!