Brain rot memes

What's The 'Brain Rot' Meme About? The Internet Slang Term For The 'Chronically Online' And Its Memes Explained

Skibidi Toilet, Don Pollo, also known as the King of Ohio, Brick Breaker Brainrot, Only In Ohio. Although the phrases and memes mentioned here may sound confusing and unrelated, one thing connects them all, which is that they are often referred to as brain rot.

If you spend a considerable time on the internet the expression "brain rot" must've popped up on TikTok, Twitter (X) or Reddit. So what does the term mean and how is making some people begin to view reality through an online lens? Let's explain.

What Does 'Brain Rot' Mean Ad Where Is It From?

"Brain rot" or "brainrot" is an internet slang term used to describe jokes about an individual's mental decline from consuming mindless or low-quality content online. It's also a humorous way to criticize trivial, nonsensical or not-so-smart memes. Although "brain rot" was popularized in the 2020s, the actual origin of the expression is unclear but likely originated in the early to mid-2010s, amid growing concerns about the impact of internet culture on the minds of netizens.

One of the earliest usage of the term about content that is perceived to "rot the brain" was posted to X, formerly Twitter, by users @IzzyNeis and @carrissa on June 25th and August 23rd, 2007, the former describing reality dating shows as brain rot and the latter describing being online in general as brain rot (shown below).

Izzy Neis @IzzyNeis These shows based around engineered "love" are brain rot... all of them but "Flavor of Love" 10:05 PM. Jun 25, 2007

How Did The Use Of The Term 'Brain Rot' Grow Online?

The term saw an increase in search interest in late 2011 for its use in the game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, in which the player can contract a disease called brain rot (shown below, right).

However, only throughout the 2020s that 'brain rot' memes became a viral topic on the internet. For example, on February 27th, 2022, Instagram user realjoemema posted a today I offer you meme using the term, garnering over 5,000 likes in a year (shown below, right).

A PALALLEU You have contracted Brain Rot. --2306 Dear followers, Today I offer you @c pure brain rot Planta Tomorrow? the same

"Brain rot" got so popular online that some news outlets have written articles about the impacts of the meme on netizens, including the story of a netizen who felt so chronically online that it spotted the origin of the 1,000 Yard Stare meme while in a library (shown below).

@joshlunchbox GO BACK TO THE DIGIT REALM YOURE NOT MEANT TO BE HERE #thousandyardstare #chronicallyonline #brainrot #studying #student #library #real #relatable ♬ messj is better than ronaldo – kilua_solos

What Are Some Notable Examples Of 'Brain Rot' Memes?

The most notable example of what is considered a "brain rot" meme is the Skibidi Toilet series and all memes derived from it. The lack of context, meaning and formatting of the content spread about the series makes it more "rotten" to digest while you consume it on social media.

For example, on February 6th, 2024, TIkTok user @pre5leyyeah posted a comedy skit video of a man offering kids a "sigma meal skibidi slicer" food. None of those words are meant to be combined, but they do sound funny in the context of the video (shown below, left).

A common 'brain rot' meme format is the mix of several other internet slangs paired with AI voiceover added to the context of a memorable scene or dialogue from a TV show, film or song. For instance, on April 2nd, 2024, TikTok user @sunnnylol recreated the ""Avatar: The Last Airbender": introduction using only 'brainrot' slangs (shown below, right)

@pre5leyyeah #brainrot #sigmamealskibidislicers #meme #sigma ♬ original sound – pre5ley

@sunnnylol brainrot // ib and audio: @Damon // #fyp #fypシ #foryou #blowthisup #seishiro86 #dont #let #this #flop #dontletthisflop #zyxcba #abcxyz #famous #viralditiktok #avatarthelastairbender #avataredit #aang #AvatarTheLastAirbender #brainrot ♬ original sound – sunny

For the full history of brain rot, be sure to check out Know Your Meme's encyclopedia entry for more information.

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