the new !!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!

it's back!!!!!11!

More often than not these days, online vernacular is just repurposed slang from marginalized communities. Woke, shade, lit, fleek, canceled, over, bae, periodt, wig, slay, sis ate, etc. Earlier this week, the New York Times put two reporters on the case of where “simp” came from. The shift to smartphones and more aggressive autocorrect has led users to repurpose existing words for online, rather than create new ones whole cloth.

But there is a whole period of online activity in which slang came from typos. Typos that soon came to intentional use. I’m thinking of words like “pwn” (“own” except the P is next to O on the keyboard) or “pr0n,” an accidental-then-intentional misspelling of “porn” to get past filters. The most obvious example I can think of is “teh.” Everyone over the age of 20 has had a devastating “teh” in their life. There was a period of the internet during which saying that you were well-versed in “teh interwebz” indicated that you were cool online — and also that you desperately need someone to invite you to a party.

Another typo goof spawned from mechanical keyboards and the absence of autocorrect was “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11” which came from having to hold down the Shift key in order to print an exclamation point by pressing the 1 key (I know you don’t really need me to explain the specifics of this but for posterity, here it is). On occasion, adding interstitial 1s to a series of exclamation points became purposeful. Something like “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!111!!!11!” is roughly equivalent to the spastic keyboard punding of “ashfgsdakfgakjghadlkjghdl.”

Virtual keyboards on smartphones do not have this issue, in which users have to coordinate their pressing of two different keys, and thus the accidental 1s issue has become increasingly rare. I’d estimate accidental 1s have decreased at roughly the rate that accidental “ducking” has increased.

There’s a new version of the 1s issue that has become something of a meme on TikTok, a next-level equivalent involving the emoji keyboard. The most popular version of the joke on TikTok, and the one whose sound has been reused repeatedly, comes from a user named @crispinion and it reenacts this scenario:

When you accidentally type

😂😂😂👀😂😂😂

You can feel it… the frenetic keyboard slamming equivalent of !!!!!!!1!!!1 in emoji form. An additional nice thing about this is because (at least on iOS) everyone’s box of frequently used emoji is different, the possible typo is unique to each individual. You slam on the cry-laugh emoji and then oops suddenly there’s a levitating man 🕴 or a woozy face 🥴.

I am particularly appreciative of the lengths that some people have gone to for the gag. A bike, a mermaid, a dress and a wig. Typos are funny! This is the kind of meme that I think is perfect for TikTok: very brief and with enough potential that anyone can put their own individual spin on it. Too much of TikTok is the same thing over and over, whether that’s everyone using the same sound clip to make the exact same joke, everyone doing the same dance moves, or everyone constructing the same type of engagement bait. To me, this is the rare meme that provides just enough formal structure and enough wiggle room to make it feel like the viewer is seeing something a little different every time.

And, because it’s centered around emoji, it transcends the language barrier.

Damn… we all know that feel. This is the type of relatable content I can get into.

I looked at my phone and unfortunately, I do not know what my own particular version of this would be, because the cry-laugh emoji does not appear in my most used. I am an infrequent texter and an even more infrequent emoji user. I use the sunglasses one pretty frequently though, so it’d be like:

😎😎😎🥴😎😎😎

Great! Typos are funny, and there aren’t enough of them anymore. I’m glad they’re back, personally. Typos feel like a great equalizer, slang-wise. They’re native to the technology, instead of appropriate from elsewhere. I hope to see more typo memes.


Is TikTok a threat to American privacy? I mean, yes, but no more than all of the other software and devices you use which are tracking you around the internet, and then selling all of that data to brokers who collate all of it and sell it yet again to other people who want to target you with ads for standing desks or whatever. The selective fear of TikTok is largely xenophobic, and racist, kinda in the same way people thought FaceApp was a Putin-led initiative simply because it was based in Russia. Facebook fulfilled more than 51,000 law enforcement requests for data in 2019 Which is not to say you shouldn’t be skeptical of TikTok, only that you should be equally wary of its American equivalents.

hey, let’s check in on QAnon

Case closed!


Elsewhere…

So a few years ago—finally fed up with my once-loyal but now reliably traitorous pen—I decided to try a digital tablet. I knew nothing about these devices but hoped it would just get me through my annual Christmas card ordeal. I got one, fired it up, and lo and behold, something totally unexpected happened: within moments, I was having fun drawing again. I was stunned at all the tools the thing offered, all the creative potential it contained. I simply had no idea how far these things had evolved. Perhaps fittingly, the first thing I drew was a caveman.


Thank you for reading BNet. Did you see these nice pics posted by the NYC Parks Department that I’m linking to for no reason at all?