Because the internet connects a variety of people from all around the world, many of its subcultures can appear extremely weird to outsiders. One of the main reasons for this is that many of the internet’s subcultures could never exist outside of the world wide web, many of them rely on the open and anarchistic nature of the internet to surivive.
While there are many subcultures that make the internet an… interesting place, I will be narrowing them down to a list of the six most unique ones. This is not meant to ostracize any of them or make them look awkward, rather this list is to celebrate how the web has managed to bring together many diverse groups of people.
Let’s dive in!
WARNING: Slightly innappropriate content (cartoon violence)
6. Freddy Freaker Fandom
Most internet fandoms surround indie horror games and television shows, but somehow, thousands of people have become enchanted by this 30 second commercial where a gremlin-looking alien does a dumpy dance to promote a party line.
This advertisement aired a few times in the late 80’s and early 90’s and never showed up again, so decades later, people have dedicated entire wikis towards trying to solve the mystery of why the ad even exists according to the Freddy Freaker Wiki.
As it turns out, a report from Break revealed that the character was created by Patrick Simmons, a Hollywood SFX artist who worked on Friday the 13th Part 7. He stated in an interview that there was supposed to be a toy line and a television show centered around Freddy Freaker, but all that failed to happen after the phone line failed.
Also, apparently the character had fully articulated limbs, but the commercial crew decided to keep him in the Jesus pose instead because Simmons was not on set. Simmons now works for Walt Disney Parks making models of theme park rides and action figures.
5. YouTube Poop Community
Where there’s smoke, they pinch back (or at least that was there slogan a few years ago). This community was started way back in 2004 when SheezyArt user SuperYoshi put an episode of the Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon into Windows Movie Maker and mashed it up to the point of no return according to TVTropes.
After his friends started putting videos like his onto YouTube to prank people, YouTube Poops have been constantly evolving ever since. The creators of these videos mash up footage from movies, television shows, and video game cutscenes to either annoy the viewer, bombard them with absurdist jokes, or tell an incredibly bizzare story.
This 1,000 subscirber special from pooper Jimmy Davis’ YouTube channel showcases many recurring sources for YouTube Poops across the site. The most common sources are Hotel Mario and Zelda and the Wand of Gamelon, British children’s poet Michael Rosen, and practically anything that is in the popular zeitgest.
4. Future Funk/Vaporwave
Vaporwave and futurefunk, like YouTube Poop, are two genres of music based on the concept of mashing up older media until its meaning is barely recognizable from the original source material.
The genre of vaporwave was born in 2010 as a critique of mindless consumerism and urban decay after Chuck Person released one of the first vaporwave albums, Eccojams Volume 1 according to Bandwagon. The title “vaporwave” comes from the term “vaporware”, a word defined as internet software that was marketed but never made.
Vaprowave started to branch out quickly after it’s inception, as the future funk subreddit states that the vaporwave subgenre future funk was invented in 2012 (note that information about vaporwave and future funk is scattershot across the internet, save for the music and musicians themselves).
The same post says that the subgenre blends funk music from the 70’s to the 90’s with Japanese city pop to create a more energetic sound that could almost make future funk a subgenre of lo-fi hip hop or french house.
Much of vaporwave and future funk’s best music can be purchased for under five dollars or even for free and I highly suggest you check it out. I personally recommend MACROSS 82-99, Night Tempo, Saint Pepsi (now “Skylar Spence”), and Yung Bae.
Saint Pepsi’s music has been scattered across several bandcamp accounts, so the Saint Pepsi link above links to his KEATS//COLLECTIVE album Hit Vibes and here is one of his most iconic tracks, “Enjoy Yourself”:
3. ASMR Channels
ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response” and is intended to send a tingling sensation through the brain through incredibly light sounds as said by the top definition of UrbanDictionary. This is often done through the use of whispering voices, the rubbing of soft cloth, carving soap, and a variety of other methods.
A quick YouTube search can reveal that people within this subculture can get wildly creative in the ways they try to make their sensory feel tingly. For example, here’s an ASMR video by docfuture1 where the Donkey Kong Country character Funky Kong comforts you after a painful divorce.
As much as I wish this was just boogie boarding in the shallow end, we should move on.
2. GoAnimate! Character Gets Grounded
One common pattern on the internet is that making fun of mediocre media almost becomes an art form, and GoAnimate! is one of the strongest examples of this.
GoAnimate! is an online animation software that uses a set of cheap character animatics and a text-to-speech program so users can craft their own cartoons, yet the ease of this program had made it very accessible to younger internet users according to Geek.com.
Because of this, both the GoAnimate! site and YouTube are crowded with multiple videos that involve animated characters (most commonly PBS Kid’s Calliou) getting grounded for extreme amounts of time after acting terribly.
I would talk about how bizzare these videos are and how the writing is juvenile, but the fact that these were made by young children, combined with this example by GoAnimateComedian from YouTube, reminds me that this is the exact type of thing that I would have done when I was ten if I knew GoAnimate! existed back then.
Warning: Possibly offensive content
4Chan deserves to be at the top of the list because not only has it gained power over culture by manipulating the internet, but because it has birthed most internet memes, entire subcultures, and helped the rise of real-life political movements.
Launched in 2003, this image board was originally just a place where young men on the internet would share information and thoughts about video games and anime according to KnowYourMeme.
While these are still among the most popular categories on the site, the mid-2000’s and onward illustrated an increasingly unified body of tricksters that could cause various forms real life mayhem through the power of internet collaboration.
Some of 4Chan’s greatest feats include causing Apple’s stock price to drop ten percemt after spreading rumors of Steve Jobs death, inventing the rickroll meme, birthing the brony fandom, and even fueling the problematic alt-right by making their site’s own country, “Kekistan” according to Gizmodo and KnowYourMeme.
While I could go further into detail about how 4chan acts as the illuminati of the internet, I’d be spoiling my next post which will go into depth about 4Chan’s storied (and ethically questionable) history, so stay tuned for next week if you want to hear more.
That wraps it up for this list! These six are only a microscopic view of the many different subcultures that internet users find themselves in, so let me know in the comments below what the weirdest web subculture you found was.