Speech Bubbling / Word Bubbling
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Speech Bubbling or Word Bubbling is the term given to a wide range of exploitable reaction images that have half of a speech bubble added to them, with the second half being left up above them. While the images below the bubbles range from positive to negative depictions for various uses, word bubbling is used to create the perception that the above post in a chain is actually being said by the character in the picture below, with the entire post above being just part of a speech bubble. It is a type of online forum game and is typically used on websites such as 4chan, Tumblr, and Discord by matching the bubble's color with the background of the chat.
Though the practice of reaction images being used in this way to ridicule people has been commonly used on 4chan and other imageboards since at least the early to mid-2010s, Tumblr is where one of the first recorded instances of this trend occurs. In late 2015, Tumblr user tripsygnoxtalgic used a Rick and Morty screenshot with a speech bubble put on top of it as a reply to the Tumblr user seriousjones, with the resulting meme being posted on iFunny by user DisturbedMars_2014 (shown below).
On iFunny and other platforms (such as Discord and Twitter) during the late 2010s, speech bubble reaction images began to proliferate over the next few years as the trend was adopted by more users online. For example, on January 23rd, 2019, iFunny user TomBarry_2015 uploaded a meme using Deus Ex protagonist Denton with the speech bubble above his avatar (shown below).
On September 19th, 2021, iFunny user IWantToFuckRias uploaded a speech bubble meme of SpongeBob with his face red in frustration, implying that the person who commented above in the thread is incredibly salty and is struggling to say their point (shown below).
Speech bubble images gained mass popularity on Discord beginning in late 2021. Many of the images used on Discord are GIFs due to issues associated with uploading transparent PNGs to the platform.
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