The Forever Alone meme is a self-deprecating joke at the Internet nerd’s expense: a crying, crag-faced loner sits with nothing to accompany him but the cold light of his computer screen.
But for Reddit user Weasel435, it’s a state of being—and a muse.
The Reddit user has suffered from severe social anxiety “for as long as [he] can remember,” he told the Daily Dot.
The 24-year-old man, born Sean McGee, lives in Austin, Texas, where he works from home making pretty cool Flash games. McGee says that he has difficulty starting conversations with strangers, and speaking to the opposite sex is petrifying. That social isolation pushes him in and out of depression.
“I don't have any public hobbies or interests, so I really don't see that there's a lot of direction at this point,” McGee wrote on Reddit.
So he’s taken that hopelessness and combined it with the Internet’s favorite form of meme communication: rage comics.
The crudely drawn comics were invented years ago on image-board 4chan as a way to show anger or frustration at everyday events. They’re easy to replicate and easy to write. In other words, anyone can make one.
On Reddit, they’ve become a kind of language in their own right, with users using them to represent thoughts and emotions.
Weasel435 has taken that language and reinvented in his own image. His rage comics aren’t just poorly written assemblages of stick figures. Instead, he interprets the same old faces with an artistic flair, all along one theme: Forever alone.
It’s rage comics with a harsh, melancholy edge: Internet memes meet Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.
The comics have been a huge hit on the site’s rage-comic section. A few have landed on the section’s front page, spawning thousand-comment-long discussion threads. His own comments have even made the site’s r/bestof section, where users highlight the best content from around the site.
Reddit’s throngs have flooded Weasel435’s threads with supportive comments and admirable efforts to make the guy feel just a little better.
McGee politely brushes off most of that advice. His comics, however, do help him, he said.
“Doing any kind of art can be therapeutic for me,” he said. Programming his web games helps, he said, “but comics work really well for me because of how rapidly I can create them and the ability to maintain a stream of consciousness.”
Even better, Reddit’s reaction pulls him out of his asocial bubble. “It's just nice to spend a day not feeling like a total social outcast,” he told us.
He spent 16 hours yesterday, in fact, responding to comments—proving, perhaps, that you’re only as Forever Alone as your next big hit on Reddit.