Meet the Sign Bunny: What it’s like to watch a meme explode

The Sign Bunny multiplies.

 

Eric Geller

Internet Culture

Published Sep 16, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 2:10 pm CDT

There have been several twists and turns in the evolution of Twitter as it grew from elite gathering place for journalists and early adopters to open forum for the masses. One of the latest chapters in this saga has been the appropriation of inside-joke Twitter memes, once confined to a small core of bloggers, by unending hordes of regular people.


 

Today saw the reemergence of a meme that we’re calling the “Sign Bunny.” If you’ve never seen this meme, here’s an example:

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | KILL | | ME | | NOW | | ______ | (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ

— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) September 16, 2014

The origins of the Sign Bunny are unclear. A Topsy search was inconclusive; various non-English-language iterations of the sign and the bunny date back several years. Know Your Meme spotted what may be the first modern occurrence, in Aug. 2013.

In 2014, the meme was used among journalists on Twitter as a sarcastic “GREAT UNBIASED REPORTING” sign. One source guessed it started with Twitter-famous subtweeting cat @SubtweetCat, but the cat vehemently denied this to the Daily Dot.

In any event, for a long time, the Sign Bunny, like many other memes, enjoyed brief bouts of popularity before once again submerging beneath the ever-churning waves of Twitter’s “hot new thing.”

Today, however, was different. Today was the day that the Sign Bunny escaped its cage.

It started with this tweet from Tumblr’s Amber Gordon to the Daily Dot’s Cooper Fleishman:

@_Cooper | ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | GURL | | PLEASE | | | | ______ | (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ

— Amber (@missambear) September 16, 2014

Gordon then tweeted this public Sign Bunny to her followers:

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | THANKS | | 4 THE | | FAVES | | ______ | (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ

— Amber (@missambear) September 16, 2014

The people in Gordon’s social circle—and the people in those peoples’ social circles—took it from there.

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | I LEAVE | | TWITTER | | FOR 2 MIN | | _______| (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ pic.twitter.com/PzbcUvuvjj

— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) September 16, 2014

As they birthed new Sign Bunnies and stuffed them with funny jokes, these Twitter users likely didn’t realize the dangers of the Sign Bunny breaking out of its containment. Before long, however, the Sign Bunny metastasized from Media Twitter to the general public.

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | LOOK AT | | ALL THESE | | BASICS | | ______ | (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ https://t.co/FVdzhfWsqi

— Tim (@TimHerrera) September 16, 2014

Oddly, if you scroll down to find pre-media-circlejerk Sign Bunnies, it was all One Direction fandom.

@Harry_Styles | ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | HARRY | FOLLOW | | ME | | PLEASE | | ______ | (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づx64

— Harry Styles (@WhatLovelyHarry) September 16, 2014

Media Twitter quickly took notice of what it had wrought.

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | WHAT | | DID I | | START | | ______ | (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ

— Amber (@missambear) September 16, 2014

Media Twitter and Weird Twitter fornicated and made an offspring. pic.twitter.com/mCuDyaxNC7

— Iva Dixit (@ivadixit) September 16, 2014

Some even mocked the spread of the meme in the context of Twitter’s supposed journalistic merits.

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | FUTURE | | OF | | NEWS | | _______| (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ

— Neetzan Zimmerman (@neetzan) September 16, 2014

Others got political.

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ | | (__/) || | | (•ㅅ•) || | | /   づ 2016 | |______| (__/) || ( ツ ) || /   づ

— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) September 16, 2014

Brands and news sites weren’t far behind.

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | Gosling | | is a | | DILF | | _______| (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ

— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) September 16, 2014

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | LOOK | | AT | | THE BUTTS | | _______| (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ https://t.co/dQO1Him1If

— Laura Hibbard (@LauralizHibbard) September 16, 2014

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄| | DENNY’S | | IS LOVE, | | LIFE | | ______ | (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ

— Denny’s (@DennysDiner) September 16, 2014

As usual, Darth was on top of his game:

DARTH’D pic.twitter.com/va3J8hKsGb

— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) September 16, 2014

Meanwhile, back in Normalville…

 ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄  ̄ ̄| | FOLLOW | ME | | PLEASE | | _______| (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || /   づ. @ladygaga 33

— s (@granthisway) September 16, 2014

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄| |FOLLOW ME | | PLEASE | | I LOVE YOU | |______| (__/) || (•ㅅ•) || @NashGrier /  づx49

— Please Madison♛ (@drewxotas) September 16, 2014

The community that had helped the Sign Bunny spread almost immediately soured on the concept.

my notifications and activity columns look like a surrealist protest march rn

— Rusty Foster (@rustyk5) September 16, 2014

Correction:

attn dailybot that tweet was “unrestrained glee” not sourness pls correct thx https://t.co/RVCegb81uM

— Rusty Foster (@rustyk5) September 16, 2014

As the dust began to settle, Gordon expressed her regret. When asked for comment, she told the Daily Dot, “I’m sorry.”

i’m ruining twitter

— Amber (@missambear) September 16, 2014

If nothing else, the explosion of Sign Bunny was good for this writer’s follower count.

Shot: https://t.co/HRWEv2xfQB Chaser: pic.twitter.com/31UhRwyj3j

— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) September 16, 2014

Update: We’re calling the Sign Bunny’s time of death at 4:54pm ET, when the New York GOP tweeted this. (As we all know, the Doge meme died when the Republican Party took it over.)

Look at what you people did. I hope you’re happy with yourselves. pic.twitter.com/hzgwCtqFBM

— Ben Jacobs (@benhjacobs) September 16, 2014

Lead art via Kelly Weill

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*First Published: Sep 16, 2014, 4:55 pm CDT