Illustration by Max Fleishman

Dancing badly to your favorite jam is even more fun with the ‘don’t start’ meme

Friend 1 and Friend 2 can't stop you.


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Published Jul 6, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 12:11 pm CDT

When your favorite song comes on in public, you’re gonna wild out or sing along emotively as the situation dictates. You know it, and your friends—Friend 1 and Friend 2—know it. 

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Unfortunately for those friends, you will not be stopped. There’s nothing they can do.

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The “Friend 1, Friend 2” meme is on the rise recently as a newer, more internet way of declaring “this is my jam.” The punchline is always a completely ridiculous GIF.

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At a time when many meme enthusiasts are mining for deeper levels of irony, “relatable” is stubbornly hanging in there as a form of meme currency. And what’s more relatable than liking a pop song? 

Bad dancing is a way of acknowledging the uncoolness of, ugh, liking stuff, and countering it with the coolness of expressing what you like while giving zero fucks. Who cares if Friend 1 and Friend 2 are embarrassed?

Of course, every meme mutates, and even something this sincere can be co-opted. “Friend 1, Friend 2” is pretty new, but variations are already emerging. Where were you when the Chilcot Report—investigating Britain’s role in the Iraq War—dropped? 

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I expect poor, overworked Friend 1 and Friend 2 will soon be put in charge of holding people back from every embarrassing public display of emotion, music-related or not. Good luck with that! 

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*First Published: Jul 6, 2016, 2:52 pm CDT