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Do you hear it?
Synesthesia is the phenomenon in which one kind of sensory input is perceived as another. For instance, you might see music, or smell a color. That’s not exactly what’s going on the “RT if you can hear this image” meme on Twitter, but it’s in the same ballpark.
The idea is that a certain image is so evocative of a certain sound, anyone seeing it will remember the associated sound. For instance, seeing the startup screen for the Nintendo Game Boy.
Or the” It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland.
RT if you can hear this image. pic.twitter.com/k6IObJQ61t
— Sora (@sora54) March 20, 2018
The earliest known use of the meme was way back in 2014, when user @beywithjoon posted… something. Unfortunately, the image has since been deleted.
RT if you can hear this picture http://t.co/iVm1EfNUmd
— Airplane (@beywithjoon) July 30, 2014
Later that year, someone used the caption to tweet out a picture of rapper Meek Mill.
RT if you can hear this picture pic.twitter.com/qYi5ZGX7Wc
— ChampagnePetty (@__Dutch) October 22, 2014
Almost a year later, someone applied the meme to the THX logo.
RT if you can hear this picture pic.twitter.com/jvE7YCMeG2
— women fan account (@nellychillin) October 12, 2015
But none of these tweets had the viral impact of this @LJB_FGC post from just a few days ago. The image shows actor Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod, the eccentric loud-mouthed radio show host from The Fifth Element. The image captures the iconic moment when Ruby meets Bruce Willis‘ character for the first time and shouts “Korben Dallas!”
RT if you can hear this image pic.twitter.com/wKXhzWKULN
— LJB (@LJB_FGC) March 15, 2018
The tweet has received almost 10,000 retweets and nearly 13,000 likes, and it launched the current “RT if you can hear this image” phenomenon on Twitter. While the trend seems to be pretty heavy on video game references, it also encompasses everything from K-Pop bands to Spanish reality television stars.
RT if you can hear this image pic.twitter.com/gc3AoyOFXf
— Burny 🐈 #30k (@Happysedits) March 20, 2018
Rt if you can hear this image pic.twitter.com/IyqWLXmAJL
— Dekaruchagofio (@machangofio) March 20, 2018
Only the truest of NCTzens can hear this picture. RT if you are a true nctzen 😜 pic.twitter.com/shf2g0A6Fs
— lucas pics (@archivelucas) March 14, 2018
rt if you can hear this image pic.twitter.com/EWTTNV4Np7
— erica intensa ✨ (@eriftchus) March 20, 2018
And is anything truly a meme if SpongeBob SquarePants doesn’t make an appearance?
RT if you can hear this image. pic.twitter.com/3Mirk2rLue
— Skoulz #JornLandeFanATM (@PLCiceRoncepied) March 20, 2018
Inevitably, someone was going to mock this meme, and the person who might have done it best also included a dig at gaming culture.
RT if you can smell this image pic.twitter.com/OSyhttjKai
— Chariot (@ChariotDaGawd) March 15, 2018
David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.