TikTok’s ‘real-life NPC’ trend comes from the worst side of Generation Z

An NPC in Grand Theft Auto V looked at others incredulously.

Picture: Rockstar North

I’ve been watching these videos for at least a year, what I call the “real-life NPC” trend on TikTok, which involves harassment, shaming or scare people in public. Harassment is a fundamental element of online life, which I readily accept “Prank” channels on YouTubefit TV series about celebrities, and my Twitter replies. But these videos captivated me in a unique way, like watching them dip my hand in a bowl sweet gum tree nutsbecause their creators have one reason only — they say it’s okay to annoy others, because others are nothing more than unplayable characters.

More than anything else, thinking this way seems embarrassing. When I watch these videos, I try to have fun so as not to disturb elderability inexperienced people, and service workers, I feel like our cultural myopia is getting worse. Being the ancestor of personal social media content doesn’t make you a god, but treating everyone around you as a mindless NPC, an easy goal, makes it easy to give up on consensus other feelings and beliefs.

Everything that defines an unplayable character is right there in the name. In video games, NPCs are characters you can’t play, even if you really wanted to kill a man with an NPC Princess Gwyneveregenerosity in Dark souls, as I know I will. Anyone who is not an NPC is a hero, the main character.

This sort of character arrangement may be inherently individualistic, but it’s no different—It mimics those found in myths Narrative arc called hero’s journey, in many movies, and in the popular first person “I” of many songs. Nothing makes video game characters particularly susceptible to selfish metaphors than characters in other art forms, except, perhaps, the fact that “NPC” is a specific term. than “background character” or “side character” and more neutral than “villain” or “best friend”.

Video games protagonists, too, are charged with a kind of positive action you can’t find elsewhere, by virtue of their actions being linked, barring cutscenes, to the player’s. If viewers could fire every gun in John Woo’s plastic surgery thriller Face/Off, too, maybe I’d be writing about the “Nicolas Cage in real life” TikTok trend instead.

So the origin of Urban Dictionary’s 2018 explanation of a snobbish NPC– “It seems that a human being cannot think objectively” – becomes clearer with this in mind. The others? Animals, puppies in need of leaders, busts with joy and aspirations to help you find the right train, get to class on time. And you? You are the main character is not at faultNot happy when all these unrelated personalities are interfering with your quest.

Through the Urban Dictionary definition was born from lazy political discontent (it lists both “Fuck Trump! Guns ban!” and “Fuck Hillary! Immigrants banned!” as NPCs say), TikTok’s interpretation of NPCs is more general, like other online interpretations . Early 2011but no less attached to arrogance.

When you search for “real-life NPCs” on TikTok, you’ll see results that have racked up millions and millions of views, with the highest number of videos posted since spring 2022 to date. Different types of content and rarely actual video game videos. One of the most viewed NPC videos, with 16.8 million views, showing a group of boys pretend to be Grand Theft Auto NPCbut another video with 12.5 million views follows a child growling at a passing classmate, ostensibly to help himself cope with life amid “too many npc”.

The most prolific anti-NPC creator could be British TikToker bigcthedonwho has an entire account and a total of 15.3 million ad likes SAY interesting things about NPCs, SAY interesting things about NPCs, SING SKEPTA ON NPC’S TUBEand SAY interesting things about NPCs. These types of disgusting displays are the most common types of NPC videos, although teenagers often do “interview NPCs” as well. with the kids at schooland Ecstatic write that some NPC videos are more related to simulation theorywith the video producer performing game-character-like movements, the robot should, to the unsuspecting viewer, appear “almost unfazed, like swallowing a red pill”.

But for me, a 23 year old or older member of muchphilosophyAbout Generation ZI think TikTok’s annoying use of “NPC” may be because my generation lives most of our lives small, alone, and online.

During my most important years, my teenage years and teens, I formed my identity and understanding of the community through chat rooms, blogs, and group messages. I never saw the person I was talking to on the other end of the line. I post Instagram selfies, An Archive Of Our Own stories, Twitter lunchtime thoughts, SoundCloud songs. I’ve seen other people’s selfies and other people’s stories, but physically everything is filtered through my isolation—only my face that I can stand up and see. In the mirror image of my computer, only my typing tells people what I believe. Using a computer isn’t all that different from the past generations’ pastimes of watching TV alone or writing letters, but only computers allow someone to parse and translate their physical and emotional bodies into text messages. Neat digital package. If not called a social media post.

For some members of Generation Z, the first generation to have access to social media from birth, the way we understand ourselves is more informed by what we do, alone. , is illuminated by the light of the screen, rather than by others. The internet, with its limitless, Photo Booth filters can distort your self-image even more than the absurd expectations of magazines, impressing us more than sitting in a coffee shop. coffee and notice that the people around us are caring, loving, and alive.

When I was younger, spending most of my time minding my internal and personal digital world, I think I no longer found that everyone around me was fully breathing. They looked at me like empty-headed NPCs – but then I grew up.

I have learned to listen and care about others. I learned that egotism quickly diminishes any self-proclaimed heroism: It hurts you and those trying to help you on your journey. And “NPC”, are they really that heartless? Isn’t it such a terrible thing to be a productive member of a meaningful collective? NPCs also have stories, families, and feelings. Like others isn’t bad, so I don’t have to be the hero. Sometimes, I’m fine with being someone else’s NPC.

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