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Copypasta Explained: The Complete Guide to Understanding This Odd Internet Phenomenon

This comprehensive guide will explore what exactly copypasta is, where it came from, the psychology behind it, its evolution and spread across the internet, and why it has become such an enduring element of online culture. Dig in to learn all about this bizarre – yet entertaining – internet tradition.

An Introduction to the Absurd World of Copypasta

Copypasta refers to blocks of text that get copied and pasted over and over across the internet as a form of meme or inside joke. Though completely meaningless and absurd to outsiders, copypasta represents a vital piece of online culture with a rich history spanning over a decade.

This article will provide an in-depth examination of copypasta, analyzing its origins, evolution, appeal, and lasting cultural impact. We‘ll spotlight "greatest hits" examples of copypasta while exploring what this reveals about internet culture and how people communicate online.

What Exactly is Copypasta?

Copypasta is text that is copied and pasted repeatedly online, often to derail conversations or annoy other users intentionally. The term "copypasta" is a portmanteau of "copy/paste" and seems loosely inspired by "spaghetti code," a programming term for messy, tangled code.

Some key characteristics of copypasta:

  • Decontextualized – Makes little sense outside of its original context
  • Frequently repeated/shared – Well-known examples are copied constantly
  • Used for humor or mischief – Poking fun or disrupting discussions
  • Absurdity/nonsense – Much of it is deliberately meaningless or illogical

While individual copypastas may have some internal consistency, they are largely contextually meaningless. The entire point is that they are silly, absurd, or nonsensical.

The Origins of Copypasta: From 4chan to the Mainstream

Copypasta is believed to have emerged in the mid-2000s on sites like 4chan, SomethingAwful, and other online forums where users would repeat odd, nonsensical, or offensive blocks of text to annoy others or identify forum newcomers.

The term "copypasta" itself seems to have first appeared around 2006 on 4chan, according to Google Trends data. It quickly gained traction as the perfect label for these bits of idiocy that users gleefully replicated.

Some credit an early meme about a satirical "Flying Spaghetti Monster" religion with inspiring the "pasta" part of the name. But the core notion of simply copying and pasting text certainly inspired the "copy" portion directly.

Early copypasta often relied on crude shock humor, racism, vulgarity, or violence to disgust people. But over time, copypasta evolved into its own genuine, if odd, internet art form.

The Evolution of Copypasta Across the Web

While 4chan may have birthed copypasta, the phenomenon soon spread across the web. Dedicated copypasta communities arose on Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, and beyond.

As the internet matured, copypasta evolved beyond trolling and shock value into a unique genre of ironic absurdist humor appreciated for its own comedic merits.

Era Platforms Type of Copypasta Examples
Early Days 4chan, SomethingAwful Shock humor, trolling Racist jokes, gore
Golden Age 4chan, Reddit Absurdism, satire Mudkips, All Your Base
Meme Culture Rise Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter Meme-related absurdity Bee Movie Script, Emoji pasta
Modern Across the web Iterative absurdism Neural network-generated content

Table: The evolution of copypasta across internet eras and platforms

While classic examples like "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" remain staples, new viral memes arise constantly that get the copypasta treatment – replicated ad infinitum. Entire online subcultures now exist dedicated to crafting and appreciating copypasta. In a way, it has moved from the fringes toward the mainstream as a beloved and ubiquitous internet tradition.

Spotlight: Famous Examples of Viral Copypasta

Many classic copypastas are now ingrained into the collective memory of the internet. Let‘s spotlight some major examples that capture the humor and absurdity of this phenomenon:

The Mudkips Meme

This Pokémon-related copypasta originated on 4chan circa 2007. It often included the line “I herd u liek mudkips” purposefully misspelling “heard” and “like” for silliness.

"so i herd u liek mudkips? MUDKIPS. KIPS. MUDKIP."

This simple absurdist phrase highlights the whimsical appeal of early copypasta.

How Is Babby Formed?

Stemming from a Yahoo! Answers post where a user hilariously asks "how is babby formed?" – that is, how are babies made. The nonsense replies became emblematic viral copypasta.

"how girl get pragnent? how is babby formed? how girl get pragnent"

This legendary idiocy is often cited as a seminal early copypasta experience.

The Bee Movie Script

A years-long meme saw users posting the entire screenplay of the Bee Movie bit by bit as copypasta, interrupting forums and comment sections. This exemplifies the "quantity over quality" ethos.

Castellanos Home Run Call

When announcer Thom Brennaman used a gay slur on-air then interrupted his apology to excitedly call a home run, that moment became instant copypasta fodder, replicated endlessly.

"I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith, as there’s a drive into deep left field by Castellanos and that’ll be a home run. And so that’ll make it a 4-0 ballgame."

Accidental absurdity at its finest.

As these examples show, copypasta runs the gamut from intentionally surreal to accidental nonsense that gets embraced as iconic.

The Appeal of Copypasta: Why This Absurdity Caught On

On the surface, copypasta is deliberately unintelligible and pointless. But this very absurdity and randomness is precisely why it is so popular and appealing.

Posting copypasta allows people to rebel against conventions of grammar, logic, and etiquette in a mostly harmless way. It builds community among those "in on the joke" who understand the non-meaning.

Sharing copypasta can also serve as ironic meta-commentary, allowing people to mock something by responding with something utterly irrelevant taken out of context. In a way, copypasta can represent a rejection of meaningful discourse itself.

As one Redditor put it:

"I think that the appeal of copypastas for me is that they totally subvert expectations. You expect something meaningful but get something absurd instead."

While outsiders may see it as inane, for devoted meme aficionados, copypasta represents a vital absurdist art form in online communication. The surreal chaos and non-sequiturs provide entertainment.

And for those creating the copypasta, the creativity involved in crafting something cleverly meaningless that gains traction is its own reward.

Copypasta as a Cultural Touchstone

Love it or hate it, copypasta has undeniably made its mark online. Although by definition nonsense, it has evolved into its own language and culture that connects aspects of coding, deadpan humor, and linguistics.

Recognizing famous examples has become a marker of internet savvy. According to Google Trends, global searches for "copypasta" have steadily risen over 300% in the last decade as it enters the mainstream.

Copypasta now spans international cultures. There are dedicated copypasta subreddits in languages like Finish and Korean. Spanish speakers use "copypasteo" to describe the phenomenon.

As memes evolve and internet culture changes, copypasta adapts. But at its core, this beloved form of online nonsense seems likely to persist as a unique absurdist art form.

Copypasta has simply proven itself too ubiquitous – and too ridiculous – to ever truly fade away. It remains one of the web‘s quirkiest, most pointless, and most entertaining traditions.