Twitter commentary has grown ever more incredulous this month, thanks to the latest meme to go viral in 2017. Known simply as "Blinking Guy" or “White Guy Blinking,” the meme is being used to react to everything from school and finances to politics — but where did the blinking guy GIF come from? After the awesome flair of Salt Bae and the brilliant (if misguided) swag of Roll Safe, it may seem strange that the latest GIF to take off in 2017 is that of a nondescript white man cocking his head mildly in disbelief and blinking several times; however, it is exactly the subtle nature of this reaction GIF that makes it so highly applicable to every situation the internet — and, indeed, life itself — has to offer.
Like many great memes, Blinking Guy comes from humble, obscure origins. The star of the GIF is Drew Scanlon, a California-born video producer and editor for the video game site Giant Bomb. The genesis of the clip is a video series produced by Giant Bomb called Unprofessional Fridays. In the original video, which dates back to 2013, Drew is one of four gamers observing his compatriot play a computer game. When the person playing says he is doing some “farming... with my hoe here,” Drew shakes his head almost imperceptibly as if he disapproves or is affronted by his fellow player’s choice to till the virtual ground... or possibly of the choice of words. His reaction is vague, but relatable, and throws just the tiniest bit of shade at his fellow gamer.
You can watch a clip from the original video here, with Drew located in the upper left hand corner of the screen:
This brief moment could have easily been absorbed into the flux of the Interwebs if it weren't for commenter Tokubetsu, who posted a GIF of Drew to the video game discussion forum NeoGAF in 2015, according to the meme database and research site Know Your Meme. The GIF, also known in certain meme-obsessed circles as the “Drew Scanlon Reaction,” flew under the radar for two years before it started to gain momentum in the winter of 2017. Twitter user @eskbl employed the GIF in a tweet describing their reaction to biology class on Feb. 5:
With over 60,000 retweets and 100,000 "likes," the tweet transformed the Blinking Guy GIF into a full-blown meme. In the weeks since its return to favor, Twitter has used the GIF to comment on a wide range of topics far beyond its origins in the niche world of Internet gaming. The reaction can suggest that one is incredulous, indignant, bored, or surprise. It is often used to highlight the incongruities in behavior or quick reversals of opinion or fortune, especially when it comes to personal finances, a job, or schoolwork.
The multi-purpose meme has been applied to what seems like nearly every thread on Twitter.
The Twitterverse is sure to find ever more uses for this guy blinking over the next few weeks, because when in doubt, just... you know, insert this GIF of the this guy blinking.