If you’re a frequent Facebook user, you would know by now that the ‘Be Like Bill’ meme is everywhere with passive-aggressive messages about proper etiquette around social media. In essence, Bill has become the face of annoyed users who wish to admonish those in their Friends list. Or, simply put, to tell them “[…] is annoying. Stop it!”.
However, it’s all done in a much more passive way. His purpose is to stop those little pet peeves that most of us have grown to have around Facebook. It’s place is in the simple formula of “This is Bill. Bill doesn’t […]. Bill is smart. Be like Bill.”. And, as easy as that, a new viral meme was born. Seems relatively simple, though it has apparently captured the audience through its satirical purpose and relatable message.
Bill does not take one hundred selfies to announce people that it’s snowing outside, because Bill knows his friends have eyes too. Bill doesn’t take pictures of his coffee and posts them on Instagram every day. Bill knows that clicking Like won’t save anyone’s life. Bill is smart. Be like Bill.
It’s as simple as that. And now, it’s everywhere.
‘Be Like Bill’ was originally created my Moldavian 23 year old Eugen Croitoru in late 2015. However, the meme has not surged in popularity until January this year. It’s a bit of an internet sensation, and has resulted in several spin-off in Spanish, “Se Como Jose”, Arabic, Bashir or Bilal, and even a female version entitled “Be Like Emily”. They all have the same purpose that, according to Croitoru, is just a way to convey a message in a funny yet sensible way.
Of course, one can always leave it up to the internet to turn anything into a tool of hatred. There are some who have transformed the meme into extremes, venturing into political areas and subjects that are better debated without the use of a stick figure. And not everyone even likes Bill.
Even though the Facebook page dedicated to the meme has gathered 1.57 million likes, there are those who do not enjoy the admonishing stick figure. Posting passive-aggressive memes about other people’s online habits doesn’t seem very productive. However, it does underline a very interesting social phenomenon on how fast its popularity grew.
Ironically, Bill has become like the very things he aims to crush: an annoyance on social media. It’s like releasing a swarm of bats to solve the fly infestation in a town. The flies will be gone, but then you have to deal with the bat infestation.
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