Short Note: People on 4chan start to call „leftists“ who „parrot talkingpoints“ „Non Playing Characters“ or NPC in short due to their simple repetition of „scripted“ language which is not their own and the usage of common phrases, which is sort of what NPCs do in Videogames. (Screenshot from a thread about a Peterson-Interview.)
This linguistic Meme and Transformation of meaning for the phrase „NPC“ confirms my thinking, that this digital stuff sends society into some form of gaming mode, where the mode of (self)organizing and emergence is embedded in the concept of Play (chronically after Religion [roughly until 1600] and Politics & Economics [1600-2000]). Interesting. Time to read some stuff about Sociopsychological Game Theory, I guess.
About a month ago, a meme along those lines took root on 4chan and among anti-progressive online communities. It’s called the NPC meme and it goes like this: Out there in the world, there are literal NPCs—the term for non-playable characters in video games—who have no internality whatsoever. There are some giveaways, of course. They spit out canned lines—“Good weather today, huh?”—and flock to normie trends (are Ugg boots still a thing?) and, for the most part, share the same uncritical worldview. The classic melancholy meme Wojak, a sad man crudely drawn in Microsoft paint, has now received the NPC treatment with NPC Wojak:
Part crackpot social theory and part elementary school insult, the NPC meme originated from a deeply comical medley of bogus physics and stupid religion found on the messaging board 4Chan. Originally posted in 2016, it resurfaced last month. “I have a theory that there are only a fixed quantity of souls on planet Earth that cycle continuously through reincarnation,” a 4Chan poster wrote. “However, since the human growth rate is so severe, the soulless extra walking flesh piles around us are NPC’s [sic], or ultimate normalfags, who autonomously follow group think and social trends in order to appear convingly human.” NPCs aren’t even worthy of a classic wake up, sheeple. They can’t!
Here’s where things get interesting. Around the time a lot of us were assigned to read The Catcher in the Rye in middle school, it was normal to have edgelord thoughts about phonies or being one of the few who is capital-A awake. The NPC meme takes things a step further into a political zone where mass outcry against, say, serial harassers, racial injustice, or Trumpian ideas is dismissed as not just inherently uncritical but prima facie evidence of a lack of human consciousness.
NPCs, the poster continued, “say the same shit,” including “SPORTSBALL,” “THE NEW ADELE SONG XD OMG” and “JUST BE YOURSELF.” The poster also cites a political example: “TRUMP IS HITLER,” adding:
“If you get in a discussion with them it’s always the same buzzwords and hackneyed arguments. They’re the kind of people who make a show of discomfort when you break the status quo like by breaking the normie barrier to invoke a real discussion. it’s like in a vidya [game] when you accidentally talk to somebody twice and they give you the exact same lines word for word once more.”
Essentially, some large portion of society (normies, pop-culture fanatics, and Trump-haters, among others) who speak in cliches are, in fact, NPCs with no internality, agency, or capacity for critical thought. Like townies in Pokemon idly parked outside the same house day and night, constantly ready with the same contrived one-liners, these IRL NPCs aren’t thinking for themselves. They can’t.