Copypasta: An Absurdist Art Form with Staying Power

So What Exactly is Copypasta?

The term "copypasta" refers to blocks of text that get copied and pasted repeatedly across the internet. Copypastas are almost always ridiculous or nonsensical – posting them serves to inject absurdist humor into conversations.

The word originated in the mid-2000s on 4chan, an anonymous imageboard site with a rich culture of distinct jokes and memes. Users would copy and paste nonsense text to poke fun at newcomers confused by the inside jokes. The phrase itself likely comes from "copy and paste" combined with either "spaghetti code" or pasta.

Over 15+ years later, copypasta remains an iconic aspect of internet discussions. Let‘s analyze the key features and purposes of this odd art form.

Born in Anonymity: Copypasta‘s 4chan Origin Story

4chan first launched in 2003 as an anonymous community where users could post images and comments. The anonymity gave rise to an "anything goes" culture full of dark or offensive humor.

Posting nonsense text and in-jokes served as a way to identify newcomers unfamilar with 4chan‘s distinctive culture. Confusion at odd snippets of text marked a user as clearly new. "Copypasta" emerged as a label for this text that got endlessly copied and re-pasted by users.

The term itself could also originate from the computer programming concept of "spaghetti code." Complex code with poor structure resembles tangled piles of pasta – hence "copypasta" as tangled nonsense text spread across the internet.

Key Attributes: Nonsense and Memes

Copypastas generally share a few key features:

  • Absurdity – The text rarely has meaningful connections to the surrounding discussion. Strange non sequiturs are quite common.

  • Shared recognition – Certain copypastas become known as cultural touchstones. Dropping references to them forges an in-group connection.

  • Categories – Common types include interrupted statements, misspelled content designed to confuse, and totally nonsensical phrasing.

  • Explicit content – Copypastas often contain language, references, or content that is sexually explicit.

Here are some classic examples that have achieved widespread cultural cache:

Copypasta ExamplePurpose
"A Drive Into Left Field by Castellanos"Humor through coincidence/timing
"How is Babby Formed"Connectivity via mutual oddity
"Has Anyone Really Been Far Even…"Enjoyment in parsing meaningless content

The shared recognition of these touchstones, despite a total lack of logic, brings enthusiasts together.

An Enduring Aspect of Internet Culture

Rather than fading away, copypasta has evolved from its early 4chan days into an emergent internet art form. Dedicated online communities exist to create and share absurd text snippets. Dropping the perfect nonsense phrase requires a command of meme culture and conveys membership within that culture.

In a way, the evolution of copypasta mirrors the mainstreaming of internet culture as a whole. Shared traditions, even completely absurd ones, form an essential glue within online communities. And copypasta, now entering its 2nd decade of prominence, serves as one long-running tradition for today‘s digital natives. Its longevity is a testament to the power of absurdity to bring people together.

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