Default appearance of Wojak
Wojak (Polish: Wojak, lit. 'warrior, soldier', [vɔjak], VOH-yahk), also known as Feels Guy, is an internet meme. An image depicted as a simple, black-outlined cartoon drawing of a bald, wistful-looking man, it is used to generically express emotions such as melancholy, regret, or loneliness.
"Wojak" was originally the nickname of the Polish user Sebastian Grodecki, on the English-language "International" board of the defunct German imageboard Krautchan. He started posting the picture that later became known as Wojak sometime around 2010, often accompanying it with the template phrase "That feel when X" along with variants. Both the face and the phrase "that feel when X" originated from a Polish imageboard called vichan. It spread to other international imageboards, including 4chan, where by 2011 an image of two Wojaks hugging each other under the caption "I know that feel bro" gained popularity. Wojak's face was also paired with the phrase "that feel" or "that feel when", often shortened to "tfw".
Later variants often paired Wojak with the originally unrelated character of Pepe the Frog. The relationship between these characters varied significantly depending on the artist, with Pepe sometimes providing Wojak with companionship and other times subjecting him to violent and scatological abuse.
In 2016, the act of posting modified Wojak faces of ridiculed or deformed nature (referred to as "brainlet" Wojaks or Slowjaks) emerged as a way to criticize the intelligence of a poster as a form of ad hominem argument. A common variation of Wojak-derived images posted in this trend are heads with disproportionately large, wrinkled brains, meant to depict high intelligence.
In October 2018, a Wojak with a gray face, pointy nose and blank, emotionless facial expression, dubbed "NPC" Wojak, became a popular visual representation for non-player characters—which are typically computer-automated characters within a video game—intended to represent actual people who supposedly cannot think for themselves or make their own decisions. NPC Wojak has gained online notoriety. The meme gained media attention, initially in Kotaku and The New York Times, due to its usage in parodying the herd mentality of American leftists. This usage of the meme has been attributed to Donald Trump supporters. About 1,500 Twitter accounts falsely posing as liberal activists with the NPC meme as a profile picture were suspended for spreading misinformation about the 2018 United States elections. On January 13, 2019, a conservative art collective known as "The Faction" hijacked a billboard for Real Time with Bill Maher, replacing Maher's image with that of the NPC Wojak.
In November 2019, the "Coomer" Wojak picked up in popularity with the "No Nut November" trend. The Coomer depicts a Wojak edit with unkempt hair and untidy beard, to raise awareness about porn addiction. A lot of the popularity of this meme can be attributed to the "Coomer Pledge", a viral internet trend which dared people to abstain from masturbation for all of November, and change their profile picture to an image of the Coomer if they were to fail.
The doomer is an image macro and character archetype that first appeared on 4chan. The image typically depicts wojak in a beanie, smoking a cigarette. The archetype often embodies nihilism and despair, with a belief in the incipient end of the world to causes ranging from climate apocalypse to peak oil to (more locally) opioid addiction. The meme first appeared on 4chan's /r9k/ board in September 2018.
A related meme format, 'doomer girl,' began appearing on 4chan in January 2020, and it soon moved to other online communities, including Reddit and Tumblr. This format is described by The Atlantic as "a quickly sketched cartoon woman with black hair, black clothes, and sad eyes ringed with red makeup." The doomer girl character often appears in image macros interacting with the original doomer character.
- Doomer - Wojak's face, with black hoodie and black beanie cap, is used to represent "doomer" - as opposed to altered faces to represent older "boomers" and younger "zoomers".
- Philosophical zombie – a philosophical concept of a being that simulates having a consciousness without having one.
- Polandball – another meme which originated on Krautchan to make fun of the user Wojak before spreading to the English-speaking world.
- Rage comic – a similar meme which also uses derivative copies of a black-and-white MS paint illustration.
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