The Life and Death of the What ___ Are You Pages

Individualism Without Responsibility: Happy Bullshit

Amidst fascist powers revealing themselves in the streets, the digital world was not just overtaken by a righteous and rightful fury but also as always: a meme. Not just any meme though nor even a meme format, but a page format that took over Instagram at a viral level. It started with the What_Frog_Are_You meme page, which has announced creating its last batch of frog name memes. Soon after the instant popularity of the What Frog Are You page, numerous versions of the same meme page format popped up. Unlike with meme formats that are based in texts or specific images, these What _____ Are You pages are a meme of the platform. I’ve thought about why this meme format might have gained popularity during this time and I can only think of the need for light-hearted bullshit. It also has the nostalgia of being in a gas station as a kid and finding your name on the keychains. We love light-hearted bullshit, even if it’s a frog that has our name in bubble letters and then our crush’s name in bubble letters, even possibly our best friend’s name in bubble letters.

Above is “Tallulah” by What Frog Are You, I especially love this one because it’s very renaissance but also very 2020. Also because the name Tallulah makes me think of a sweet Southern bell. The What Frog Are You page also fits within a section of the overall What ___ Are You pages because it focuses on a specific kind of animal, which tend to be the most popular of the pages because who doesn’t want to know what kind of cow or dog you are?

I love the ones that have multiple names, which in times of lockdown almost feels like a strange digital attempt at hanging out. Similarly, the landscape ones really bring forth such a vibe every time I see them. The animal page formats have all hit near the one hundred thousand followers mark in under a month, which I believe has to do with the fact that it’s easier to see yourself as associated with cute, funny, or ridiculous pictures of animals versus a photograph of another person. This isn’t to say that there aren’t pages that have popped up through fandom, such as the What Rihanna Are You? page or the What Tony Soprano Are You? page, which both, of course, exist for the sake of the fans.

I really love the one for the name Clint with Rihanna eating ramen, it’s just gorgeous and fun and utter bullshit but that’s what I love about this page format. These pages exist to simply exist, there’s no technical reason anyone needs a photo of Rihanna with their name on it except outside of desire alone. It would be a loss to not mention one of the OG pages, that even though popular some may ignore because they don’t focus on a specific Theme so to speak, but instead simply on images themselves. Incredible meta, if you think about it. The page What_Image_Are_You takes cursed (and some not cursed) images and similarly bubble letters the names of all of our friends to images that are not just nonsensical but simultaneously disturbing. I want to be disturbed, so I love this.

So what makes these pages popular? What’s the deal? Honestly, it’s the fact that the pages that do it right are able to depersonalize even the most personal things about us: our names. People can choose to relate to the names/images that they’re attached to or not, they can be amused and annoyed or even upset over the choice of page curator but it’s not their choice to make. These pages appeal to the millennial and gen z crowd alike because they can make it about themselves in an absurd and completely unnecessary way…. but that’s why it’s great. Sometimes when the world is falling apart (or more specifically your country) you just need to see which Rihanna you are, which of course has the same vibe of a bad Buzzfeed quiz except you have no choice. This is the chosen Rihanna you are, you see what I mean? To be individual yet without the power and responsibility of individualism. These meme page formats fill in a much-needed gap in content, one in which nothing really matters but yet we can feel soothed.

Who doesn’t want to be soothed while being patted on the head? These meme page formats do just that.