“Brainrot” is the new online affliction

The term primarily refers to low-value Internet content and the effects of spending too much time consuming it. Example: “I've watched so many TikToks that my brain is rotten.”

Online debate about brainrot has recently become so widespread that some social media users have begun creating parodies of people who appear to embody the condition.

Several videos from TikTok user Heidi Becker show her in front of the camera as she quickly strings together one Internet reference after another.

“Hello, oh my God, the fit is right, pop in, king!” he says at the beginning of a recent video that has over 200,000 likes.

Other lines in his soliloquy include: “He's giving energy to the golden retriever,” a piece of slang describing someone who gives the impression of being friendly, silly, or harmless; and “I really like walking with sexy girls and I really like girl dinner,” references to everyday activities that TikTok has gendered and named.

Accusing someone of having a broken brain is not a compliment. But some people show a hint of pride in admitting this condition. A recent BuzzFeed quiz challenging readers about obscure Internet trivia was titled, “If You Pass This Brain Quiz, Your Brain Is 1000% Cooked.”

“One of the easiest ways to tell if someone's brain has been wrecked by social media is to notice how often they reference Internet slang,” influencer Joel Cave recently posted on TikTok. “The fact that the internet can infiltrate our brains so much that people don't even have control over what they say – they just have to spit out whatever meme they've seen often – is crazy to me.”

Some social media accounts are dedicated to creating “brain content,” which has become its own subgenre of entertainment. TikTok user “Fort History” takes clips from movies and TV shows and dubs them with the latest internet slang.

“Hey, Rizzler, it's just you and me today,” Phil from the sitcom “Modern Family” appears to say to his son, Luke, in one clip.

“Okay, I'll get down right away,” Luke replies.

Taylor Lorenz, author of “Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet,” said she sees “brainrot” as synonymous with the phrase “broken brain.” Both online terms apply to those who have become so warped by what they see on the Internet “that they have lost the ability to function in the physical world,” said Ms. Lorenz, a Washington Post columnist who was previously a reporter for The New . York Times.

The term “brainrot”, which appeared online as early as 2007, is intended to be playful. But its growing popularity is tied to growing recognition of a disorder that researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have called Problematic Interactive Media Use.

Michael Rich, a pediatrician who founded the Digital Wellness Lab at the hospital, said his patients refer to brainrot as “a way of describing what happens when you spend a lot of time online and you've shifted your awareness to online “. space rather than IRL, and they're filtering everything through the lens of what's been published and what can be published.

Dr. Rich added that many of his patients seem to view brain corruption as a badge of honor. Some even compete for the most screen time the same way they do for high scores in video games. They joke about it, aware enough to understand that obsessive Internet use affects them, but not enough to stop it.

“Even if they're experiencing brain rot, they don't use that as motivation to get away from it,” Dr. Rich said.

Joshua Rodriguez Ortiz, an 18-year-old high school student from Billerica, Massachusetts, said he has heard the term come up more and more frequently over the past two months.

“I think people started to realize that TikTok is so consuming our lives that it just felt like brain rot, because people are constantly scrolling on TikTok and there are so many niche references from TikTok,” he said.

He cited a recent viral video titled “The Tik Tok Rizz Party,” which showed a group of teenagers dancing to Kanye West at a Sweet Sixteen party.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *