In Internet culture, shitposting is posting posts or content to an online forum or social media that is "of aggressively, ironically, and of trollishly poor quality". Shitposts are intentionally designed to derail discussions or cause the biggest reaction with the least effort. Sometimes they are made as part of a coordinated flame war to make the site unusable by its regular visitors.
Definition and usages
Shitposting is a modern form of provocation on the internet (the term itself appeared around the mid-2000s on image boards such as 4chan), but the concept is not new - the early 20th-century art movement Dadaism created art that was intentionally low-quality or offensive to provoke the art world.
Writing for Polygon, Sam Greszes compared shitposting to Dadaism's "confusing, context-free pieces that, specifically because they were so absurd, were seen as revolutionary works both artistically and politically". Greszes writes that the goal of shitposting is "to make an audience so confused at the lack of content that they laugh or smile".
Shitposting is often misunderstood in popular culture; journalist Jessica Lindsay qualified it with an actual definition:
Shitposting is nothing of value. It is the online equivalent of shooting tin cans with a spud gun in a patch of wasteland. It's repeating what the person you're with says in a stupid voice until they give up and go home. The idea that shitposting is some media trick that's been harnessed by the Tory party with their Comic Sans posters defeats entirely the point of the act; to be stupid with no inherent goal (or at least not a serious one).
Professor Greg Barton, an expert on terrorism at Deakin University, said racist "shitposting" is common across the internet, and is a way for people to connect and gain attention. "The thing about social media is that it's social. You want some feedback, you want people to like your stuff whether it's Instagram or Facebook", he said. "Shitposting is all about getting your profile up, getting a response and the more ironic and funny you can be the more you get."
In modern politics
The political uses of shitposting came to prominence during the 2016 United States presidential election. In May of that year, The Daily Dot wrote that a shitpost is "a deliberate provocation designed for maximum impact with minimum effort".
In September 2016 the pro-Trump group Nimble America received widespread media attention. The Daily Beast described the group as "dedicated to 'shitposting' and circulating internet memes maligning Hillary Clinton".
In September 2016, The Independent wrote that shitposting is an apolitical "tool that can be put to a variety of effects". But posts such as these appeared long before the 2016 US presidential election. Engineering & Technology magazine wrote that "shitposting, whether from the left or right, is perilously close to delivering an online metastasis of Orwell's Two-minute Hate [sic]".
In March 2018, talking about Facebook group New Urbanist Shitposting or New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens, Chicago magazine defined it as "posts that are meant to be awkward and irrelevant, aggravating and distracting social media communities from discussing their topic at hand".
The Financial Times defined shitposting as "posting ostentatiously inane and contextless content to an online forum or social network with the effect of derailing discussion". It gave the example of Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson's being forced to deny she had killed squirrels for fun after online trolls made up a story about her having done so.
In popular culture
- Suntukan sa Ace Hardware started as a sardonic shitpost by a satirical Facebook account, but eventually turned into a promotional event as a result of the ensuing publicity.
- The Storm Area 51 event that gained worldwide attention was created by an account called "Shitposting cause im in shambles".
|Look up shitpost in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- "How spammers nearly destroyed the biggest 'Simpsons' meme page". The Daily Dot. 2016-08-24.
... but that doesn't quite speak to the essence of 'shitposting', which encompasses content of aggressively, ironically, and of trollishly poor quality. Incoherent jokes, hasty Photoshopping, mashups, irrelevance, errors in spelling or grammar—all are hallmarks of the shitpost ...
- "The racist, sexist alt-right is celebrating over Leslie Jones' abject humiliation". Mic (media company).
On alt-right forums, hate speech is passed off as "shitposting"—purposeful offensiveness meant to shock and provoke, a counterweight to calls for safe spaces and trigger warnings.
- "Shitpostbot 5000 proves internet memes will outlive humans". Geek.com. Archived from the original on 2018-06-14. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
- "Multimedia Artist manuel arturo abreu on Shitposting and the Infinite Scroll". Paper. 2016-08-25.
I also think I subconsciously associate endless scroll with low-quality / spammy content, memes, shitposting, etc, which appeals to me.
- Biggs, John (2016-09-23). "Papa, what's a shitpost?". TechCrunch.
But remember that the shitpost isn't an expression of power rather it is the derailment of discourse.
- Walker, Alex (2016-04-05). "Purges and politics in cyberspace". Cherwell.
'Shitposting' according to the Open Oxford administrators Ash MQ & co involves 'a small coterie of members posting in-jokes, diary entries, and pictures of excrement' which meant that 'discussions were derailed, serious threads became lost amongst the nonsense, and most of the group's over 4000 members were put off ever getting involved.'
- Francis M. Naumann, New York Dada, 1915–23 Archived 2018-10-28 at the Wayback Machine, Abrams, 1994, ISBN 0-81093676-3
- Mario de Micheli (2006)
- Greszes, Sam (2018-12-17). "Shitposting is an art, if history is any indication". Polygon. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
- "FAO BBC, this is what shitposting actually is". Metro. 2019-11-08. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
- Boseley, Matilda (2019-03-17). "Inside the 'shitposting' subculture the alleged Christchurch shooter belonged to". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
- TellMAMA (2019-03-15). "Brenton Tarrant: How the media helped turn the 'shitposting' terrorist into a meme". TELL MAMA. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
- "How to speak like a Donald Trump supporter". The Daily Dot. 2016-05-02.
... shitposting means good posts with bad behavior. It has roots in older communities like Something Awful and 4chan, which celebrates the shitpost like no other. The shitpost is a troll, a deliberate provocation designed for maximum impact with minimum effort. It's bad. It's good.
- Ben Collins, Gideon Resnick (2016-09-23). "Palmer Luckey: The Facebook Near Billionaire Secretly Funding Trump's Meme Machine". The Daily Beast.
- Hern, Alex (2016-09-23). "Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey spends fortune backing pro-Trump 'shitposts'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
- Horwitz, Josh (2016-09-23). "The founder of Oculus is funding a group that "shitposts" anti-Hillary Clinton memes". Quartz (publication).
- "Shitposting: What is the bizarre online behaviour that could win Donald Trump the election?". The Independent. 2016-09-23.
Shitposting in itself doesn't appear to have much of a politics, instead being a tool that can be put to a variety of effects—being used from everyone from the far-right such as Trump fans to left-wing groups online like those meant to support Bernie Sanders.
- Dempsey, Paul (2016-09-27). "Real-world politics torpedo Facebook's virtual pioneer". Engineering & Technology.
- "Why Canada Can't Laugh At America Anymore". Esquire. 2016-11-07.
- Mortice, Zach (29 March 2018). "Meet the 61,000 Transit Nerds of Facebook's 'New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens'". Chicago. Tronc. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- Mortice, Zach (9 April 2018). "Meet the 61,000 Transit Nerds of Facebook's 'New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens'". Zach Mortice. zachmortice.com. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
- "Year in a word: Shitposting". Financial Times. Retrieved Mar 21, 2021.
- Golby, Joel (Nov 21, 2019). "This week's biggest Twitter controversy? Jo Swinson's squirrel problem". The Guardian. Retrieved Mar 21, 2021.
- "INQUIRER.net - Happening now: Ace Hardware Sm City Lucena..." Facebook. 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2016-05-23.
- "Ace Hardware gets ready for 'Suntukan'". GMA News. 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
- Frank, Allegra (Jul 12, 2019). "More than 2 million people have RSVP'd to "storm Area 51"". Vox. Retrieved Mar 21, 2021.