I stopped updating my Tumblr a long-ass time ago, when I got out of a long period of unemployment and just became too busy to keep up. But now, as a social media editor who sees scrolling TweetDeck columns when I close my eyes, I've hopped back on, because basically everything good on the internet comes from Tumblr, and it's sorta my job to know about it.
Tumblr is a haven for weird teens, kids who stay in on Saturdays with the shades drawn to binge-watch cartoons and make microwave mac 'n' cheese. (This is not an insult, I relate strongly to this vibe.) These youths—despite their late 2010s cynicism—curate some of the funniest shit out there, and a lot of it very earnest and endearing.
I don't know if user markv5 is a teen. I don't even know their gender for sure, though I think I saw somewhere that they're a dude, and their name is Markus, which makes sense. I just know they speak Russian. Whatever, it really doesn't matter. Only the content matters.
Markv5 posts cat memes. They're simple. Just pictures of cats doing funny or cute shit, and a caption in the vein of a "That feeling when…" type of statement. This is perhaps the most classic, crowd-pleasing meme format. But the captions are all in Russian, and because a lot of Tumblr can't read Cyrillic, markv5's posts are frequently accompanied by another user's handy translation.
I became so delighted by this micro-community of markv5 and their translators that I tweeted about it, and the thread went somewhat viral.
Markv5's posts and their translations garner tons of reblogs, which is how I discovered them—they just kept showing up on my dashboard. But what is it that makes these posts so appealing? The captions themselves, while plenty cute and amusing, aren't astoundingly clever or funny. They're just good cat memes in a sea of other good cat memes.
But Tumblr loves them, and judging by my tweets, so does Twitter. It's something about the translation, I think, that makes them so delightful. An extra beat before the punchline is revealed. They unfold slowly, like a Fabergé egg.
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