Callum BoothManaging Editor
Callum is the Managing Editor of TNW. He covers the full spectrum of technology, looks after editorial newsletters, and makes the occasional Callum is the Managing Editor of TNW. He covers the full spectrum of technology, looks after editorial newsletters, and makes the occasional odd video.
If you’re even slightly ‘online,’ the Bernie sitting meme has been unmissable. It hit fever pitch just before the weekend — and that means one thing: it’s now passé. The internet moves so quickly that a few days of popularity is a practically an epoch.
But just because the Bernie sitting meme is over, doesn’t mean it’s dead. Far from it. To paraphrase an excellent tweet, we’ll soon enter its ‘mom phase.’ You know, that terrible time in a meme’s lifecycle where your relatives post it on Facebook with captions like “LOL IM DED,” “HAHA,” and “SOCIALISM IS CANCER.”
There’s nothing we can do to stop this — it’s simply nature healing — but we can help speed the process up. And that’s where this Bernie sitting meme generator (created by Niko Draca) comes in.
Using it is simple: you go to the website, upload a background image, position the Bernie sitting picture, and then download it. It makes it truly simple to make, uh, art:
The Bernie sitting meme generator may be a no frills web app — you can only change his position, not the size, angle, or color, for example — but this is a good thing. Why? Because this is a perfect thing to send the people in your life involved in its ‘mom phase.’ And for those people, simpler the app is, the better.
Think of it this way: if we’re going to have to live through images of Bernie sitting forwarded to us on family WhatsApp groups, we may as well try and make it happen as quickly as possible. And that’s why the meme generator is useful.
Some final thoughts on the Bernie sitting meme
There’s a reason why I believe the Bernie sitting meme got quite so popular: relief. I’ve written before about how certain memes reflect the public unconsciousness, and the Bernie explosion is a perfect example of this.
First off, it’s not a coincidence that the meme came out of Biden’s inauguration. The last four years of Trump leadership has been traumatic in a myriad of ways, but I’m going to focus on the most relevant for this article: the ubiquitousness of his image.
The kindest way you can describe the previous American president is as polarizing — and seeing a constant flood of his pictures was, well, tough. It’s made much of the internet feel like a battle zone each and every day. And the Bernie sitting meme is a salve to this particular emotion.
Although Sanders is a political figure, the image itself is deeply unpolitical. There’s no self-awareness, no desire to make a statement; it’s simply an old man trying to keep warm. In many ways, the image represents the opposite to Trump, a figure who waged an endless war to make everything about him.
This picture of Bernie flooding the internet and social media is making someone who clearly doesn’t hold many ambitions to be the center of attention, the key narrative. Could you imagine how much Trump would love this good-natured meme-ing happening to him?
And that’s a key part of its success: not only reverting expectations, but the delightfully twee and innocent joy that has circulated around the Bernie sitting meme. It’s a sigh of relief, a release of tension, an unconscious desire to return to simpler times; in other words, an attempt to be apolitical in an overly politicized world.
It was beautiful, as though the whole world relaxed for a moment. Bernie sitting was the perfect meme for something that’s been lacking recently: hope. The meme’s time may have passed, but it was glorious while it lasted. Relive the nostalgia here.
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