When memes creep into real life.
“You look really poggers today!” you say as your face pales and slowly turns into an onion. It happened again, you let a Twitch meme slip into your language. Not unlike malware infecting an operating system, you’ve let an in-group joke get out into the real world and there is no telling how it will be received outside the basement lab that is Twitch chat. The good news is, this error in code-switching is not just you. Something similar is currently happening to top Twitch streamers all around the platform.
Chance “Sodapoppin” Morris has been hit particularly bad by the cat noises, injecting it into his speech in real-life moments as his friends tell the story.
You might think that it makes some sense if Sodapoppin uses the language that he’s communicating with his friends in an online environment with also off-stream to use his social group's jargon. Unfortunately, the mind-bug doesn’t stop there as it has also slipped into conversations with other people in his life.
But what is this in-joke about and just...why does it have to be cat noises?
The origin of “meow” as a sentence-final particle
In some languages, sentence-final particles are used to signal that you’re done talking similar to how the military would add an “over” at the end of their turn to speak. “Meow” seems to have taken that place for streamers on the Twitch platform as well, ending each speech turn.
To understand why this is happening, we need a bit of context. As part of the continued effort to create cross-stream content between streamers on the platform, some streamer communities like the OfflineTV crew have made a conscious effort to set up gaming experiences that connect broadcasters and facilitate more fun and easier to come by content on Twitch. The success of Among Us and the rise in viewership across those participating channels has proven to be a valuable strategy for everyone to grow.
The currently most hyped social game experience in this sense came at the hand of top streamers such as Sodapoppin, Félix “xQc” Lengyel, Rachel “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, the OfflineTV crew and many more getting together on a privately hosted Rust server. The multiplayer survival game Rust by Facepunch Studios offers a ton of base-building options, and with increasingly viable sandbox approach, creatives are free to design fun and engaging scenarios in which to interact in.
In an effort to make role-play work in a whacky but entertaining manner, the server established groups that would interact in RP-scenarios with one another. One of those groups are the Kittens, pretending to be humanoid cats. Using “meow” as a marker for their group, other teams coming in and interacting with the kittens soon starting using the same words when talking to the group on the server. Soon, the word spread like wildfire and found their way out of streamer’s mouth more than they intended with streamers like Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek catching the bug as well.
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Image via Sodapoppin