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His name is Drew Scanlon, and the GIF comes from a show on video game news site Giant Bomb. Drew is reacting to someone doing a little “farming, with my hoe here.”
The clip is from 2013, though, and the context doesn’t have much bearing on the meme that’s popping up everywhere this week. Divorced from its context, the White Guy Blinking GIF can be a surprised, stunned, or indignant reaction to just about anything.
The revival of the GIF seems to have been instigated by this tweet, way back on Feb. 5:
It’s now spreading like wildfire on Twitter, where people have found all kinds of diverse uses for it. Many of them have to do with the management (or mismanagement) of personal finances:
Or, following on the original tweet, problems at school:
But really, it’s universally applicable to anything that surprises you, even if it shouldn’t.
It even applies to the meme itself:
This is a double joke because it’s not much of a pop quiz: Most people are calling the one with the blinking white guy “White Guy Blinking.” You could call it “the Drew GIF,” but nobody outside of the Giant Bomb community would know what you were talking about.
The interesting thing about this meme’s positioning on the viral internet is that it’s completely mainstream and Twitter-based. Unlike a lot of memes that start on Twitter (especially in the Black Twittersphere) and end up co-opted by Reddit and 9gag, “Dank meme” subreddits and meme economy investors don’t seem interested in this one at all.
On Reddit, Salt Bae was adopted but quickly dismissed, Roll Safe was embraced and mutated, and the purple Trash Dove was immediately rejected as “cancer.” Blinking White Guy might be the first big Twitter trend of the year to go completely ignored by people who consider themselves serious about memes.
Only one reaction seems appropriate:
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.