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Socially Awkward Penguin is an advice animal image macro series featuring a penguin lacking both social skills and self esteem. The text typically narrates uncomfortable life situations, highlighting an exceptionally clumsy or inelegant response.
The original image was taken by nature photographer George F. Mobley and posted to illustrate a fact sheet on Adéli penguins for National Geographic’s Wild Animals site. The Socially Awkward Penguin image macros began appearing on 4chan as early as May 2009, following the explosion of either series like Advice Dog and Courage Wolf. In an archived thread from May 31st, 2009, a /b/ (random) user names Socially Awkward Penguin as an explanation of the term “advice animal.”
On August 30th, 2009, the single topic blog Fuck Yeah Socially Awkward Penguin was created. That year, Socially Awkward Penguin was mentioned on several other 4chan boards including /co/ (comics and cartoons) and /a/ (anime and manga). The first Socially Awkward Penguin mention on Reddit took place in a comment thread on September 25th, 2009. After the original poster, vanhookjosh, was seeking help for his anxiety, Redditor parttimehuman used the reference to reassure him that everyone has moments in life where they feel uncomfortable.
In July 2010, Buzzfeed featured a series of Socially Awkward Penguin images, followed by Smosh that November. The next month, a series of notable images was shared on internet culture blog Street Couch and a Socially Awkward Penguin Android app was released. The first Quickmeme instance was generated in late December 2010. The next year, the series was also featured on internet media blogs Topcultured, Runt of the Web, and Geekosystem. As of April 2012, over 32,000 people have liked the Facebook page associated with the macro. It also has evolved into a popular hashtag on Tumblr and Twitter, to collect posts about awkward life situations.
Jiffy Cabs Advertisement
Redditor Denying_Reality posted a photo of a newspaper advertisement for Canadian taxi company Jiffy Cabs featuring Socially Awkward Penguin on November 3rd, 2011. Memebase users confirmed that the photo came from The Muse, a student newspaper from the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada.
Some Socially Awesome Penguin macros were created as direct reversals of Socially Awkward Penguin derivatives. For example, the image below shows an examples of Socially Awkward Penguin, a Socially Average Penguin and a Socially Awesome Penguin derivatives for the same social situation.
Socially Awesome Penguin
Socially Awesome Penguin is the most popular derivation of Socially awkward penguin. Commonly depicted as the antithesis of the original character, with the captions depicting the character as popular, charismatic and sexually attractive. On January 13th, 2010, the “Fuck Yeah Socially Awesome Penguin” Tumblr blog was created, with the first image macro featuring the caption “Say a word wrong / create hilarious inside joke”. Although the image was watermarked by Meme Generator, the exact date of creation is currently unknown. Soically Awesome Penguin follows a reverse template style from Socially Awkward Penguin, having the penguin face the other way and the background red instead of blue, matching with the characters being the complete opposite of each other.
On April 8th, 2010, a Socially Awesome Penguin image macro with the caption “Crush walks up to you in hall / have a quick chat. You’re meeting her after school” was submitted to a Socially Awkward penguin thread on 4chan’s /b/ (random) board.
On August 15th, a second “Socially Awesome Penguin” Tumblr was created. On January 3rd, 2011, a post with several Socially Awesome Penguin derivatives was submitted to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit by Redditor Mano21, receiving 1,210 up votes prior to being archived. A Socially Awesome Penguin Quickmeme page was created the same month. On March 1st, 2012, the Internet humor blog Smosh published a round-up of notable Socially Awesome Penguin derivatives from Tumblr and Reddit. The meme has continued to spread on sites like FunnyJunk, Tumblr and /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit. As of April 16th, 2012, the Quickmeme page has received over 3,500 submissions and a Facebook page for “Socially Awesome Penguin” has accumulated over 990 likes.
Socially Awkward Penguin often appears in image macros with its antithesis Socially Awesome Penguin. On May 12th, 2011, a “Socially Awesome Awkward Penguin” Quickmeme page was created, featuring macros with half of the image portraying a successful social interaction and the other half describing a socially awkward interaction. As of April 16th, 2012, the Quickmeme page has received over 8,200 submissions.
Search queries for Socially Awkward Penguin began in May 2009, the same month the earliest chanarchive thread took place.