FAO BBC, this is what sh*tposting actually is
Yesterday evening, BBC Sounds posted a clip of political editor Laura Kuenssberg explaining a term called shitposting.
She claimed that it was when ‘political parties and campaign groups make adverts that look really rubbish, and then people share it online saying “oh, I can’t believe how shit this is”, and then it gets shared and shared and shared’.
This might be a fair assumption for someone to make, but only if they’d never actually been online and looked at a meme before. That’s because this isn’t what shitposting is at all.
The clip prompted plenty of ‘OK boomer’ reactions, and even actual boomers claiming that they were more clued-up than the commentators on the nature of shitposting.
It’s not the first time the media has been out of step with digital culture. Can anyone remember when Kay Burley had an aubergine emoji mishap and accidentally alluded to her son’s friend’s penis?
Or when ‘alerts’ were issued about teens using acronyms to sext, such as NIFOC (naked in front of computer) and GYPO (get your pants off)?
Basically, normal and serious people can’t understand the outwardly stupid ways that the extremely online get their kicks, and therefore end up woefully misunderstanding us all.
For those of you who didn’t grow up on terrible forums that warped your mind and sense of humour to the point you only find nonsense funny, here’s the actual definition of shitposting.
What is shitposting?
Shitposting is nothing of value. It is the online equivalent of shooting tin cans with a spud gun in a patch of wasteland. It’s repeating what the person you’re with says in a stupid voice until they give up and go home.
The idea that shitposting is some media trick that’s been harnessed by the Tory party with their Comic Sans posters defeats entirely the point of the act; to be stupid with no inherent goal (or at least not a serious one).
Encyclopedia Dramatica, a sort of Wiki for meme culture, defines it as ‘Shitposting is the act/art of producing an online post (or in the case of wikis, creating an article) that nobody cares about, is of low quality/content, and which has no relevance whatsoever.’
You’re essentially just being a buzzy fly, taking people’s serious conversations and sending a meme you created on paint to derail the thread.
It can be an act that ends up provoking a reaction, but is different from trolling in the sense that it doesn’t have to be offensive in nature.
That’s not to say it never is. After all, thinkpieces in recent years have dedicated time to the fact that notorious shitposters on sites like 4Chan and 8Chan have gone on to be figureheads for the far-right, and in worst-case scenarios even terrorists.
Much like how memes can be weaponised (RIP Pepe the Frog, who went from silly amphibian image to Nazi signpost) so can shitposting. But it would be reductive to say that’s all it is.
Take a look at the Dril Twitter account, and you’ll see that nonsense can be just that.
Through pathologising internet speak and behaviour we’re at risk of becoming a meta-meme ourselves. Especially when we don’t get the nature of the thing in the first place.
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