I have woken up many days in this year with a singular thought running through my head: “What the fuck?”
It’s amazing how versatile this WTF mood is. It started off as something directed towards how impossible the pandemic situation seemed, then it was reserved for heartbreaking issues like the migrants walking thousands of miles home in India, then for the discovery that dishwashing by hand is a magically never-ending process, then for the fact that people were still making babies in these apocalyptic times.
A couple of days ago though, the WTF was aimed at a meme that had gone viral, first in India and then around the world.
It happened suddenly, literally overnight. Till 2020 came and messed it up for all the Binods around the world, it was just a simple name most would say is one they’d associate with a Bengali man. But one pandemic day, it suddenly was all over social media with no explanation given. Just a “Binod” harmlessly dropped in comments sections across Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, to the amusement of some and confusion of most. And then they multiplied, leading to scrolls and scrolls of Binods, blurring the line between spam and meme.
After a day or so of confusion, the story behind Binod emerged. It turned out that a video by YouTube channel Slayy Point titled “Why Indian Comments Section is Garbage (BINOD),” had made a dig at the bizarre things Indians comment on online, including one person who had merely commented his name on one of their videos. That person was a Binod.
On further investigation, that man turned out to have a YouTube account by the name of Binod Tharu, but with no videos. All he does, it appears, is go on other videos and drop his name. And because that’s utterly senseless, silly, funny, empty and WTF, it only made sense for everyone to follow suit in 2020. Please don’t ask why. Even Binod doesn’t know.
After comment bombing by people across random posts online, woke brands and even cops latched on to have their Binod moment too.
One of the first ones to mass-meme was the Mumbai Police Twitter account, which wasn’t too surprising considering they’ve been killing it with their very viral puns for a while now.
Then, India’s ever-vigilant French hacker, who has only identified himself as Elliot Alderson so far, decided to reveal his real identity. Apparently, he is also Binod.
Some were more “Ok, boomer”, but the effort is cute.
Someone tagged Paytm and asked them to change their name to Binod. Which they did for a while too, apart from some more Binod-ing.
And of course memes followed and so did people making Binod accounts and using it as inspiration for their work, all over the internet.
Nobody asked, but in my opinion, the Binod meme could’ve worked only at this point in time, when people have enough time to not just laugh at it but also deploy it.
We’re exhausted enough to not question the absurdity of its virality, looking for something less serious and more innocent to occupy ourselves for a nano-second, given how apocalyptic everything seems to have gotten. In a way, Binod is the banana bread of the pandemic, six months into it. It’s sweet, it’s easy, it has mass appeal, it can be as complicated or uncomplicated as you want it to be. It’s kinda also like being an ant on Facebook (but only with the ability to be anywhere with a Comments thread) and as illogical as the cake meme that was gifted to us some time ago (only more desi).
The world’s best memes are born when they are not just easily share-able but also open to being personalised as they go, like the Distracted Boyfriend meme that refuses to die only because it can be resurrected easily with new humour, time and time again. And that’s especially why Binod works. It can be replicated so easily, and requires not even basic art skills to do so. All you need is an ability to type out five alphabets. And a full-stop if you’re me. Binod.
Follow Dhvani on Instagram.