Meme Analysis: The Nobody
The way I look at things, The Nobody is as useful as a fairy tale that we enjoy because it allows us to frame our understanding of the world in a different way – essentially, that we like it because it is useful, not because it is real.
And yes, the psychological game is and absolute foundation of the entire Nobody meme. In fact, the psychological game was the real addiction that kept so many coming back to the threads day after day. I am not as interested in understanding The Nobody as a physical person as I am in understanding the elements that made the meme so enticing.
Unlike other threads, The Nobody was not news about current affairs, a debate over a subject based in fact, a discussion about a traditional religion with well established scripture and adherents – it was not purely secular nor entirely religious, it was not contingent upon one knowledgeable user to keep the discussion going, had no point in which all the opinions about a topic might become exhausted.
What did The Nobody thread have? A motivation to continue participating – the ego gratification of receiving or expecting to receive admiration. The carrot on the stick is in the promise of becoming a hero, being saved by a hero, or becoming the invaluable ally of a hero. The Hero’s story is the most beloved and time honored stories in existence – but the Nobody offered not the chance to hear a story, but instead, to participate in it. This need is rarely satisfied in ordinary life, where even the highly religious are often spiritually hungry and thirsty for ritual. The Nobody is a ubiquitous treasure trove in this sense – a psychological game, but a gratifying one to partake in.
The nobody threads are probably as close as many of us get to the experience of fighting for a crown or battling away pretenders to the throne. We may not live in castles or hire spies, but in the nobody threads users could play spy by posting under multiple names, committing subterfuge, testing out their charisma, and playing at potentially winning the title of king, or backing someone who does.
Of course, the very premise that keeps this game mentally fulfilling is the same thing that ensures it will never end. There’s no crown to win, no sage to pick the bravest heart, no hero to rescue the masses from the schemes of the power that be. It is an endless roleplay that feels very real.
Even those in the threads who were certain they were the ones manipulating, ultimately, were almost certainly being manipulated by the meme itself.