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How Wojak became the meme of the moment

The ever-changing face of an entire community

How Wojak became the meme of the moment The ever-changing face of an entire community

The quarantine to which the coronavirus is forcing us is a good opportunity to discover, devise and above all have fun with memes. The comic element of a meme revolves around a set of fixed characters, each with its own clearly recognizable characteristics. One of the main characters of the memes of the past decade was the Doge, a Shiba-Inu-bred dog whose gaze, between naive and amused, becomes from time to time an expression of perplexity, annoyance, indifference or irony. When it comes to memes originating in online fashion communities, the most popular and versatile character is definitely Wojak, a stylized man on a white background whose expression does not vary, but who acquires from time to time different characteristics based on to the human type of which the meme parodies.

Its comic power lies in its versatility. Wojak's first appearance was in 2010, published by a Christian Grodecki, nicknamed "Wojak", a Polish user of the now-defunct German imageboard Krautchan. It was in 2011 that the meme found international popularity, in the depiction of the so-called Feels Guy, whose recurring line was "I Know That Feel Bro". The most frequent representation is that of a Wojak embracing another with a certain veiled bitterness in his face that is one of the purest expressions of social awkardness and the disillusionment of millennials online. The Feels Guy, almost at the level of the Doge, in those years became the basis for thousands of memes on the web, since it could represent those typical moments when you are bored and unhappy without being able to prove it and seek consolation in someone who pity us, sharing the our own emotions.

After a later phase in which first-generation memes disappeared – so to be understood, those expressive black-and-white faces of a certain feeling like the "Troll Face" or the "Me Gusta" – the Wojack is back in a new format, forgetting its status as "Feels Guy" , and recycling himself into the three roles of the doomer, the zoomer and the boomer. And if the boomer already has a particular identikit, that of the middle-aged adult who underestimates the problems of the boys and takes everything under the leg, with "ignorance", the zoomer and the doomer are characters with less defined contours. The zoomer represents the swaggering but ignorant boy, often presumptuous, who does not yet have an opinion about what surrounds him and that depends on his parents; the doomer, on the other hand, always depicted dressed in black, with a knitted cap on his head and with a cigarette, is the most interesting figure among them, since he refers to a young-adult, disenchanted and excluded from mainstream society – essentially, a drift depressed of the human type of hipster born in 2016.

The meme in which he is most frequent to find the example of the doomer depicts him finally finding a soul mate - a doomer girl, a girl with a black helmet, an innocent appearance and an edgy look as that of his male counterpart. Basically, the meme narrative is based on the flirtation between the two, who, speaking, express opinions or preferences in pop culture, with variants in which the two agree on a certain topic and others in which the doomer girl prefers to date a character called Chad (a name borrowed from one of the darkest and most misogynistic online communities, the incel), generally bolder and "manlier", with a defined social status. 

In pages of fashion memes like @fuckhopsin, the Wojak is used to tease different categories of people, from the most banal of hypebeast who tries to reseal his latest purchase (and is often idealized as a zoomer), to the maniac of archive fashion (pictured instead with the traits of the doomer) who thinks he is the best dressed person in the world and wants us to know to everyone. It is remarkable in this sense how Wojak is able to diversify to represent many different stereotypes that affect all human beings. It's still too early to say whether Wojak will be the meme of the decade. What we can be sure of is that, in its ability to reflect the personality characteristics of a vast but recognizable range of individuals, it can become the best representative of a community. The evolution of memes forcibly passes from here, becoming a way to identify and feel part of a community, respecting the canons of the New Luxury, whose basic principle is to be yourself and feel accepted for what you are in a community of similar and equal.