I’ll be honest: Sometimes, memes can seem impossibly opaque. Their origins are obscure; their spread is inexplicable; and their meaning is not always clear. But that’s not the case with the “It’s Okay To Be…” meme currently sweeping Twitter; indeed, this one asks one very important question: If it’s okay — nay, if it’s encouraged to be you (because seriously, that’s an awesome thing to be) — then what is it not okay to be?
Folks have some, uh, thoughts. And honestly, they’re pretty funny.
It’s worth noting that the origins of the meme are… not great, despite how innocent it looks on the surface. (Basically, we’re looking at a milkshake duck situation.) According to meme database and tracker KnowYour Meme, “It’s Okay To Be…” — which is a snowclone, or “a type of phrase that has a standard pattern in which some of the words can be freely replaced,” according to Macmillan Dictionary — began around the same time that 4chan’s terrible “It’s Okay To Be White” campaign kicked up. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it this particular meme a reaction to “It’s Okay To Be White,” but it did sort of evolve out of it — although thankfully, it evolved in ways meant to make people laugh, rather than to spew hateful rhetoric. The healing power of comedy and all.
And, indeed, the many variations on this particular snowclone emerging from the depths of the internet are certainly worth a chuckle or two. They tend to speak to a wide range of human experiences: Sharply divided opinions on food, deep thoughts on age-old debates, universal truths, and more. A recent Twitter Moment has pulled together some of the most notable examples, but there are plenty more where they came from; here is just a small selection of what it’s apparently not okay to be or do, according to the internet:
1. Going Slowly In The Fast Lane
It's called the passing lane for a reason.
2. Wearing A Bow Tie Without Mastering The Art Of Tying One
Need some help? Here's how to tie a bow tie. You're welcome.
3. Getting In The Shower First
I mean, getting in before you turn the water on means you're just going to be hit by a blast of boiling hot or freezing cold water. Why would you do that to yourself? No one deserves that.
4. Destroying A Perfectly Good Steak
Has anyone told this guy?
5. Ruining A Perfectly Good Concert
Or, conversely, ruining a perfectly good Snapchat Story. Either way. Don't do it.
6. Committing This Wardrobe Faux Pas
I mean... yeah, I am not a Croc fan, either. But I think this is one of those rules you set for yourself, not for other people. If you want to wear Crocs, by all means, please do; I, however, will pass.
7. Hating This Guy
8. Doing This To Pasta
Nobody tell Buddy the Elf. He'll be so upset.
9. Choosing The Wrong Preposition
It's an island. You're always on it. Not in it.
10. Streamlining Your Hygiene Routine A Little Too Much
*Sadly waves goodbye to my beloved Philosophy 3-in-1s.*
11. Not Following The Proper Breakfast Procedure
I mean, this is just common sense, right? How can you be sure the proportions of milk to cereal are correct if the cereal isn't in your bowl when you pour the milk?
12. Failing To Trust In The Love A Miniature Horse Can Inspire
14. Taking The Wrong Side In This Very Important Debate
History has settled this one already. Don't you forget it.
15. Doing This
16. Ordering A Hawaiian Pizza
17. Trying To Be Someone Else
By all means, let yourself evolve. Just don't, y'know, steal anyone else's identity while you're at it.
18. Failing At Putting Your Shoes And Socks On
Sock, sock, shoe, shoe.
...I'll show myself out.