If you have been using the internet for a while, you may have stumbled across the term “copypasta” before. In fact, this little meme has been around since 2006 and has evolved into its own branch of internet humor that is alive and well nearly a decade later. If you’ve ever tried to make sense of copypasta, you are actually playing right into the purpose (or lack thereof) of the copypasta itself! Today, we are going to be taking a look at copypasta and learn all about its origins and current usage.
What Does Copypasta Mean?
Copypasta is a selection of contextually meaningless text that is commonly copied and pasted during online discussions. It’s often used as a way to derail the conversation, annoy users, or just be funny.
If you think that definition is silly, you are on the right track! Copypasta is inherently meaningless, although the texts that are usually copied and pasted often have some form of internal consistency. There aren’t any hard and fast rules as to what makes copypasta, but there are a few things that most copypasta examples have in common:
- Usually meaningless in relation to the conversation they are posted in
- Particular text selections are regularly used by an individual or group of people (common usage)
- Is generally used as a way to poke fun or annoy someone who doesn’t know insider language (which is inherently meaningless)
Currently, there are famous copypastas that any chronic internet user (people who are immersed in internet culture) would recognize. Certain copypastas serve particular purposes in certain contexts, but it isn’t always the case.
Where Did Copypasta Originate?
While it is difficult to track down the origins of a cultural phenomenon on the internet, we do have some idea as to when and where it came from. The most likely suspect is that the word was first used on the social site 4chan and was a way to pick out new users on the site. When a user would get annoyed at people posting meaningless sections of text on their posts, it would identify them as someone who didn’t understand the system and be clearly new.
The origins of the word itself are a bit tougher to nail down. There is a clear connection between the words copy and paste, especially since copypasta is always copied and pasted by humans as a form of spam. As users continually copied and pasted the same blocks of text, eventually, the word copypasta came to identify the process of it. There is also some possibility that the word has to do with “spaghetti code,” where improper coding could result in the outpouring of meaningless text. The “right” answer likely is a mixture of the two, but it’s hard to know for certain.
Copypasta vs Copy and Paste: What’s the Difference?
As we explored in “Where did copypasta originate?”, there is certainly a connection between the word and the act of copying and pasting. Where copypasta is the text that is being used, copy and pasting is simply the process that allows it to happen.
Copypasta is a copy and pasted block of text, while copy and pasting is the everyday act of using a computer function to repeat text. Copy and pasting are usually done by highlighting a portion of text and pressing CTRL+C to copy and CTRL+V to paste in an appropriate area.
Classic Examples of Copypasta
Copypasta has been around for over a decade. As a result, there are a lot of examples of copypasta out there. Many of these come from the subreddit r/copypasta, where people have been posting their favorites for years. Where the copypasta has a specific purpose, we will explain it, but many times the text itself is meaningless.
Keep in mind that lots of copypastas have explicit language.
A Drive Into Deep Left Field by Castellanos
Tom Brennaman, a Reds broadcaster, made a homophobic slur during a broadcast. He then apologized, but halfway through his apology interrupted himself. Brennaman said, “I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith, as there’s a drive into deep left field by Castellanos, it will be a home run. And so that’ll make it a 4-0 ballgame.” This became an instant meme as copypaste.
I Herd U Liek Mudkips
Although mostly meaningless, the copypasta references fictional stories online involving Mudkips, a particular Pokemon.
There is a lot of poking fun on the internet. When someone makes a particularly bad point or isn’t making sense with an argument or opinion, a common copypasta tactic is to post meaningless words that cause your brain to struggle when you read it. Here’s an example:
“Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?”
Hurting your brain yet?
How is Babby Formed?
This copypasta originated when a Yahoo! Answers user asked the internet the question, “how is babby formed?” hoping to learn how babies are made. The horrible spelling, plus the horribly spelled answers, spawned YouTube videos, songs, and common usage of the various misspellings as copypasta. Here’s an example:
“They need to do way instain mother> who kill thier babbys, becuse these babby cant fright back? It was on the news this mroing a mother in ar who had kill her three kids, they are taking the three babby back to new york too lady to rest. my pary are with the father who lost his chrilden ; i am truley sorry for your lots”