The NPC meme is a variant of the Wojak / Feels Guy meme. The figures shown are gray and instead of a normal face, they have an expressionless and highly simplified face that resembles a simple smiley. All „NPCs“ have the same facial expression.
The NPC meme is a reaction to the current political culture and situation in the world. The term „NPC“ is used to describe people who are assumed not to think for themselves, but to adopt the attitude of another or superior as if automatically. This means that NPCs repeat and parrot the opinions of others without considering implications or criticizing the opinion.
Update 2022: What are NPCs?
In youth and Internet lingo in 2022, people were referred to as NPCs who simply stand around (in the background), talk (babble) something irrelevant, and otherwise make no contribution. These NPCs populate the background, so to speak, talk about something and otherwise have no meaning or relevance. At worst, the loud talk of NPCs is distracting or they just get in the way.
Of course, one would also have to acknowledge that a place without NPCs would be pretty empty. Further, one would have to acknowledge that one’s self is an NPC in the lives of others, who may be interfering with one’s intention to record a video or whose talk that others are NPCs devalues and interferes with others. The last thing you might see and realize is that you take yourself too seriously if you think others are the NPCs and you think you are at the center of the world. (Maybe it’s the other way around?)
The NPC meme simply explained:
In the past, these people would have been called „sheep“, „sheeple“ or „(ideologically) deluded.“
What does NPC mean? Meaning, definition, explanation
The word „NPC“ means non-player character. The term comes from video games. There, characters that serve the plot, interact with the player or simply populate the world are called NPCs. They do not have free will. Each of their actions and statements has been predetermined by the game architect, who has set immutable rules for everything(!). NPCs cannot break out of these rules. They also cannot change them or deviate from them. NPCs only react to stimuli and are not able to develop (or rethink) their abilities, opinions or views.
The way these NPCs function has been applied to various humans and is a pejorative term.
How to recognize an NPC? What characteristics they have:
People who meet the following characteristics can be called NPCs:
- They adopt opinions, arguments, and statements of others without question.
- They do not question opinions, arguments, facts and statements.
- They ignore internal and external contradictions.
They lack moral ambivalence.
- Their attitude is strongly one-sided.
- They deliberately do not build empathy for their opponents and do not want to understand their position.
Statements by NPCs seem as if they have been learned by heart. They repeat a set of arguments, information and facts. The more populist and simple the information, the easier they spread it. NPCs seem incapable of evolving their opinions or integrating new information into their world. They rigidly divide the world into good and evil. NPCs seem to listen only to their „leaders“ or those they have chosen to lead them and soak up any instruction or information from that person.
Their reactions seem automatic and thus have a robotic character.
Examples of NPCs
Whether NPCs like or dislike a person, group, or thing determines their reaction. The motive or possible beneficiaries do not matter.
Their behavior can be broken down to simple stimulus-response patterns:
- „A person or group I don’t like has said or done something, so I criticize or defame them.“
- „A person or group I like has said or done something, so I praise or defend them.“
The attitude toward the person or group determines the evaluation. Not the motive, intent, or who benefits.
It works for Trump opponents, „Trump said something. So I’m criticizing him.“ As well as for Trump supporters, „Trump said something (again). So I think it’s good.“
In German politics, it also works..:
For AfD opponents, „The AfD said something, anything, so I criticize them.“ or „I only focus on the negative of the AfD.“ – For AfD fans: „The AfD said something. I think it’s great.“ or „I only focus on the positive of the AfD and ignore contradictions and inconsistencies.“
Someone is a Merkel fan, then he finds everything she says / does good or he is Merkel opponent, then he finds everything she says or does bad.
- „A (political) group I don’t like is demonstrating, so I take part in the counter-demonstration.“
- „I classify all statements of a (political) group or person I don’t like in such a way that they appear negative and must be rejected.“
- „A person who is part of or has sympathies for a (political) group I dislike, I dislike and avoid all contact with – regardless of the person’s character.“
NPCs support a cause or are against a cause without having much deep knowledge about it. They easily become part of a large crowd.
Reactions to the NPC meme
Some of the reactions to the NPC meme were very strong, as many supporters of different political persuasions felt addressed. They interpreted the NPC meme as belittling and defaming their humanity. Among others, Trump opponents and Trump supporters felt addressed. In addition, Social Justice Warrior (SJW), supporters of gender doctrine, and their opponents reacted.
They were accused with the NPC meme of using like „NPCs“ the same arguments and phrases that are spread in the media, as well as having the same attitudes as spread in their milieu media.
„NPCs“ are also accused of ignoring contradictory information, turning it around to fit their worldview, or simply calling the other person a „Nazi“ or „racist“ in order to morally devalue and denigrate them.
Where did the NPC meme come from?
The NPC meme started on the internet forum and board 4Chan. A post titled „Are You an NPC?“ was published there on July 7, 2016. This post discusses the idea that people who follow every trend, believe everything the media says, take every piece of information at face value, and subscribe to every group-think can be called NPCs. They appear human, but have no thoughts of their own. There, NPCs were first depicted as gray figures with simplified and identical facial expressions.
Accordingly, „NPC“ is simply a new term for the old phenomenon of fellow travelers.
The basis for this idea is a Psychology Today article published in 2011 that discusses the idea that not all people have an inner monologue. They act without thinking and simply adopt opinions.
How are NPCs possible?
„NPCs“ are accused, among other things, of being one-sided and of having unbalanced (political) opinions. This is correct and is not the fault of NPCs, because politics only works through one-sidedness. An example of this? You can pass better animal welfare laws or more business-friendly animal „protection“ laws. If the government passes an animal welfare law that increases animal welfare, it can be interpreted as anti-business because it increases the cost of keeping animals. If the government passes an animal welfare law that relaxes husbandry rules, it is good for the economy because costs may go down, thus increasing profits, but it is bad for the animals because husbandry conditions have been reduced.
Groupthink and follower-think is a fundamental part of the human psyche. Being part of a group gives security and increases the chances of survival – people in the Stone Age already knew this. This thinking is deeply anchored in the human psyche. Anyone who questions group thinking must expect to be quickly ostracized or criticized. Examples of this?
In October, Sarah Wagenknecht criticized the „Unteilbar“ demonstration in Berlin. She was criticized for this and said afterwards that she felt bullied and feared a campaign against her.
This groupthink and the division of the world into good and evil is dangerous. Because the legitimization that someone is the „good guy“ can lead to the idea that everything can be done to the „bad guys“ because they are the „bad guys. In doing so, the „good guys“ renounce any empathy for the „bad guys“ and deliberately do not want to develop any understanding for the position of the „bad guys“. This leads to the „bad guys“ being dehumanized because they deviate greatly from the values of the „good guys.“ How should a society now deal with these dehumanized „bad guys“?
Everything has two sides: Who wants to see the shadow?
One must rightly accuse the NPCs of being incapable of recognizing that everything has a positive and negative side – that is, a shadow. No political group or person is purely negative or purely positive. This thinking is dangerous because it leads to the fact that supporters and the ideas of a (political) group that an NPC dislikes can always be demonized because of the dislike. In doing so, the other side of the coin is ignored and anything negative is targeted.
Basically, anyone who does not want to recognize that every (political) group or person has two sides and thus can never be unilaterally bad or unilaterally good would have to be called an NPC. They thus ignore the fact that something is only true if the opposite is true. With it they operate politics in the core, because this is unfortunately one-sided.
In the conclusion it must be said that there are no „bad people“, but only people whose behavior is evaluated as „bad“. In the same way, there are no „good people“, but only people whose behavior is evaluated as „good“. Whoever dares to take this small leap can develop understanding for the „bad people“ and see that they are not so „bad“ after all.