Have your friends, for some unknown reason, started telling you to be more like them? If you’ve checked your Facebook feed in the past 24 hours, then you were most likely inundated with your friends posting “Be Like (insert their name here)” notifications alongside a drawing of a stick figure. But, just what the hell are these posts about, and why has this meme suddenly taken over Facebook?
The posts are based on a meme called “Be Like Bill,” a fictional character created last year by a Moldovian programmer, Eugeniu Croitoru. Along with his colleague, Debabrata Nath, Croitoru made a series of cartoons that show Bill engaging in various activities and abstaining from others. However, as the BBC points out, Bill is “far too polite to tell you straight out not to do something. Instead he leads by example. But the message is clear and often very funny.” Clearly, the meme is a passive-aggressive commentary on the smug, “look at how cool I am” nature of social media posts.
“The idea is very simple,” Croitoru tells the BBC. “’Bill’ can be anyone who is smart and has common sense and doesn’t do annoying things. You’ll also notice Bill can be someone who makes fun of himself and jokes about others too occasionally.”
The meme took off, and the “Be Like Bill” Facebook page already has 1.25 million likes. But why is it suddenly taking off again? According to TechCrunch’s Sarah Buhr, it’s because of a meme generator that lets you replace Bill’s name with yours. And during the past weekend, enough people have posted their personal versions of “Be Like Bill” that it’s creating a backlash among Facebook users and the media.
It’s so annoying that even the Queensland Police Service in Australia has issued a wanted ad on its Facebook page, looking for Bill. It seems Bill has become a butt of its jokes. Although the cartoons were created as a response to all the annoying posts people make on social media, Bill’s sayings actually come off as smug, too.
Croitoru doesn’t mind the parodies or criticism, however. “I’m not annoyed. All I can say is that I made the idea popular with the intention of making something positive. Something that makes people laugh. It’s not meant to be about politics,” he tells the BBC.
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