WHAT IS AN NPC?
It started on the boards of 4chan and made its way to Twitter, but what exactly is the NPC meme, and why is it upsetting so many people?
Anybody who is familiar with video games will be familiar with the term NPC. It stands for Non-Player Character, and is a term which is used to describe a character in a game who is not controlled by the player, but is instead pre-programmed by a computer via predetermined or responsive behaviour. NPCs are the villagers in Skyrim and World of Warcraft who give you quests and repeat the same three instructed sentences over and over again whenever you address them.
The term NPC is now being applied to people in the real world to describe those who share the same uncritical worldview, are unable to think for themselves, and those who regurgitate the same obvious talking points of the mainstream narrative.
I was going to give some examples of real-life NPC talking points, however, what better way to demonstrate this to you than by showing you the memes themselves?
The NPC meme is a simple yet effective way to illustrate those who have no agency and no capacity for independent and critical thought, yet often choose to engage with those who do. This process, as demonstrated in the memes above, often involves the NPC displaying faux public outrage at more original and innovative ideas in a bid to demonstrate to their also NPC audience that they’re towing the non-offensive mainstream line.
What is perhaps the most interesting chapter in the NPC meme saga is the response of the progressive left. The NPC meme was never meant to set a divide between the right and the left, yet it has. In the same way that the Jewish community adopted offence at Viktor Orbán‘s comments about our enemy speculating with money and not having its own homeland but feeling as though it owns the whole world, the left have taken it upon themselves to adopt the NPC meme. If the shoe fits, as they say…
A quick internet search of the NPC meme will return an article by Kotaku which complains about the concept of the NPC label and describes it as “dehumanising”.
The article writes:
IT’S ONE THING TO CLAIM THAT A PERSON’S STRONGLY-HELD VIEWS ARE INFORMED BY NOTHING AT ALL, BUT ENTIRELY ANOTHER TO IMPLY THAT THEY’RE COMPLETELY ON AUTO-PILOT. THAT IS DEHUMANIZATION, A WAY OF RECONCEIVING YOUR ENEMIES AS OBJECTS, PAWNS, STRAWMEN, TOOLS.
The progressive left have also been channeling their inner “I am fine” Wojak on Twitter, embodying NPC meme mode, and alternating between pretending they don’t care and full-blown meltdown mode.
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