On May 15, an audio-based meme sent shockwaves through Twitter. No one was safe. Everyone was affected. Not even celebrities were spared. Even Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak discussed "Yanny" vs "Laurel" over text — but, their opposing views on the viral debate may have just shattered their friendship.
It all started with one simple text message between long-time pals: "Yanny or Laurel!?!" Kaling asked Novak in a conversation she'd later post on her Instagram Stories. "I need to know," she insisted. "I don't understand," Novak replied, seemingly unaware of sound clip phenomenon. "How can you not know about this?!" Kaling incredulously inquired.
It's not clear how Novak managed to avoid the "Yanny" or "Laurel" debate up until that moment — seriously, it swept over social media like an air-born epidemic — but, his time had finally come. Novak had to pick a side.
For anyone else out there who may have missed the meme (or has been living under a rock/off-the-grid for the last 24 hours), it's time you pick a side, too. The premise behind "Yanny" and "Laurel" seems, at face value, simple enough. All you have to do is listen to a short, robotic audio clip, and answer one very straight-forward question: Do you hear the voice saying "Yanny," or do you hear it say "Laurel"?
"Obviously Laurel," Novak announced. "Just looked it up." Now, it's important to understand at this point that not everyone hears the same thing — which is weird, because once you listen to it, it seems utterly impossible that anyone could hear anything other than what you, yourself, just heard. It's either "Laurel" or "Yanny," and there's no in between. (Well, until you keep listening and it switches, making the whole thing even weirder.)
Novak heard "Laurel." Kaling did not. "Hey," she replied to her long-time bestie in a seemingly level-headed state. "We've had a long friendship. You mean a lot to me," she wrote. Novak, almost in anticipation of what was to come, interjected, "You have got to be kidding me."
Kaling continued, "But if you don't hear Yanny, it's over." Yes, it's that serious. It could very well be tearing families apart as we speak. "Who hears Yanny?" Novak asked. "I DO," Kaling exclaimed. And then the curtain closed on BJ Novak and Mindy Kaling's decade-plus friendship. Just kidding! (I think.)
Honestly, though, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that "Laurel" and "Yanny" sparked more than a few incensed arguments. The video originated on Reddit (via a user named RolandCamry) a few days before it took over Twitter, and there are a few theories within the thread about what it is that make different people hear different words.
One theory is in regards to bass frequency, and you can supposedly hear it both ways by adjusting the volume on your speakers. Another theory suggested that what you hear depends on what kind of device you're listening to the clip with. Either way, thinking about the "why" or "how" of it all makes my brain hurt, and I personally stand firmly planted on #TeamYanny — just like Kaling.
If Kaling and Novak want to keep their friendship in tact, they may just have to agree to disagree on this one. The two first met way back in 2004, when they were both hired as writers on The Office, and — despite a romance and eventual break-up — they've been pretty much inseparable ever since.
It's probably safe to assume that it's going to take more than a "Yanny" and "Laurel" debate to tear these two best friends apart. There's no way to know how many weaker friendships have suffered because of the meme, though.