A Saturated Landscape
Meta-cringe arises from our prolonged existence across multiple digital platforms. This extensive online presence has led us to a peculiar juncture: we now struggle to discern whether someone is being sincere or ironic. As Veronika notes, “I think every app weirdly has their own sense of humour and language”. This shift in online communication signals a departure from the over-the-top characters of the noughties to today’s more nuanced, meta-cringe personas. These personas, subtle yet familiar, highlight how our time spent online has affected our naturalness in self-expression.
Millennial Cringe vs. Today’s Meta-Cringe
There’s a distinct difference between the ‘millennial cringe’ of yesteryears, where phrases like “epic bacon” epitomized humor, and the type of meta-cringe flourishing today. Meta-cringe humor marries earnestness with a playful mockery of it, residing in a liminal space between sincerity and subversion. “Meta has been my word lately,” Veronika reflects. “I’ve zoomed out too much where I’m like, is it cringe that I’m pretending to be cringe now? It’s a meta of a meta of a meta thing.”
In today’s information-saturated world, being ‘out of touch’ has evolved from a mere social faux pas to a political statement. It’s become a form of anti-establishment rebellion. Non-consensus is celebrated, with new heroes emerging who are unapologetically un-enlightened, proudly showcasing everything they don’t know.
A Radical Return to Humanness
Curating a perfect persona on the internet is easy. Hiding behind filters and retakes is the norm. However, earnest, embarrassing, unpolished, unaware, and overly self-conscious content represents a radical return to humanness in a world far too picture-perfect. This movement isn’t just about humor; it’s a statement about authenticity and the value of unfiltered human expression. As we navigate this new era of meta-cringe, a question lingers: Are we witnessing a genuine shift towards embracing our unvarnished selves, or is this just another layer of performance in the endlessly complex theatre of the internet?
Bradley C and GPT