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Member since: Fri Jun 29, 2018, 01:51 PM
Number of posts: 119

About Me

Starving artist & writer. Wannabe comedian. Foodie. LGBT. Love cats & bad movies. Lifetime Democrat; lurking on DU since 2001 (really!). I make stuff.

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"NPC" accounts on Twitter

I apologize if this has been covered already, but I haven't seen it on DU, so...

If you're on Twitter, and have noticed a sudden influx of crudely-drawn, grey-faced, apparent bots parroting the Resistance, here's what you're seeing:

About a month ago, a meme ... 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. ...

In some corners of the internet, NPC is beginning to replace the term “SJW.” According to ex-World of Warcraft dev Mark Kern, NPCs have the following qualities: “Incapable of independent thought. Wants everything done for them. (Quests) Constantly needing coddling (escort quests).” He published his checklist after another developer accused him of being a “right wing hack.” The tweet evidently was meant to compare so-called SJWs to these NPCs.

What makes this marginal, stale meme built on edgelord logic worth half a thought is what the idea of an NPC speaks to. NPCs have no agency; NPCs don’t think for themselves; NPCs don’t perceive, process, or understand; NPCs arrive at the same worldview not because it’s authentic to their experiences, but automatically. As a descriptor, it suggests that those to whom it applies aren’t even human, but are rather, functionally, robots, or clusters of computer code. That this has resonated as widely as it has is funny, but also a little scary.

It’s one thing to claim that a person’s strongly-held views are informed by nothing at all, but entirely another to imply that they’re completely on auto-pilot. That is dehumanization, a way of reconceiving your enemies as objects, pawns, strawmen, tools. At best, dismissing large swaths of people you disagree with this way betrays a lack of empathy for people whose experiences differ from yours, and an unwillingness to consider that if a vast number of people happen to agree over something, it may be good to examine why; at best, it is a great utility for spreading bogus conspiracy theories. ...


How The 'NPC' Meme Tries To Dehumanize 'SJWs'

Right-wing circles online have become increasingly obsessed with “NPC” memes, which they’ve utilized to compare their critics to non-playable characters in video games. The comparison, they hope, serves to ascribe a degree of intellectual apathy to, and dehumanize, those who do not hold their own far-right beliefs. ...

In early September, the meme experienced a brief renaissance on 4Chan’s “politically incorrect” anonymous image board (known online simply as “/pol/”) but appeared to wander out of the spotlight nearly as quickly as it had entered. But since the publication of a Kotaku article explaining the meme last week, users have made a play to replace the term “SJW”—referring to the caricature of a “social justice warrior”—and has given birth to a new tangle of spin-offs. ...

Now that the NPC meme has been re-framed as a way to “own the libs,” it’s inspired a new wave of enthusiasm among Trump supporters online. ...

Users at Reddit’s largest pro-Trump forum board have praised the meme’s supposed potency, one user writing, “I guarantee this is demoralizing enough liberals to make a difference on Election Day.” Users adapted the meme to depict NFL player Colin Kaepernick, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, and panel guests on CNN. One user even created a custom snapchat filter that users can apply to transform anyone’s face into the “NPC” meme. ...


The Right-Wing Internet Gets Hip to ‘NPC’ Memes
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