The Old Gray Lady has succumbed to the tides of history and today, at long last, published the term “shitposting” for the first time. Naturally enough, the word appeared in an article on Gen Z’s latest innovations in the form, which currently sees the young and hip filling Instagram with posts that resemble Tumblr memes from a decade ago.
Taylor Lorenz’s New York Times article “Text Memes Are Taking Over Instagram” describes this new school of posting, summarizing it as “barraging people’s feeds with seemingly indiscriminate content, often accompanied by humorous or confessional commentary.” The key passage in the piece comes just before this: “Known in internet slang as shitposting, this style of posting involves people publishing low-quality images, videos, or comments online.”
The rest of Lorenz’s article goes on to explain how popular accounts like @carti_xcx, @on_a_downward_spiral, and @lifes.a.bender “nearly all feature screenshots of text on top of photos, made using the anonymous confessions app Whisper, or Instagram’s ‘Create’ mode, which lets people design text posts on top of gradient backgrounds.” It describes how Instagram has basically usurped Twitter as the prime venue for shitposts that grew out of younger social media users laughing at “people’s overly earnest Facebook status updates” last summer, probably, at least in part, as a way to make fun of an older generation while dealing with being trapped indoors and communicating with friends online during a pandemic.
What we’re most interested in, though, isn’t the way the article highlights how the rapid pace of modern culture lays bare just how cyclical social media trends really are or its insights into the development of new forms of internet behavior. No. We’re mostly just tickled that The New York Times has finally had to acknowledge the practicality of a term as precise as “shitposting” in order to engage with a world absolutely filled to the brim with it.
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