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.
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
— Jin is my king (@rmeffect) July 30, 2014
Later that year, someone used the caption to tweet out a picture of rapper Meek Mill.
Almost a year later, someone applied the meme to the THX logo.
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!”
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/IyqWLXmAJL
— First and Only (@machangofio) 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 (@PLSkoulz) 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