What Does It Mean When Someone Says "Brainrot"? Plus, How to Avoid It

Thứ sáu - 26/04/2024 23:11
How brain rot affects young and old alike Spend enough time on the internet and you're likely to come across terms like "brainrot" or "chronically online." These are slang words used to describe a condition where too much screen time or...
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Spend enough time on the internet and you’re likely to come across terms like “brainrot” or “chronically online.” These are slang words used to describe a condition where too much screen time or time in niche internet communities starts to alter your behavior, so that the way you speak and think becomes totally confusing to the average person. We’re here to give you a full explainer, including how to use the term "brainrot," how to spot "brainrot" content on TikTok, and how to avoid "brainrot" opinions yourself.

Note: "brain rot" can also refer to mental fog and lethargy caused by too much screentime. We'll cover this condition in detail below too.

Brainrot Overview

“Brainrot” is a slang term used on TikTok to describe silly opinions, thoughts, and language that people can develop when they spend too much time online or in niche internet communities. "Brainrot" usually refers to videos or tweets that feel totally out of touch with reality.

Section 1 of 6:

Brainrot Meaning

  1. “Brainrot” is a slang insult for users who are “too online.”
    When you see this commented on TikToks, Youtube videos, or Tweets, it’s often a cutting way to imply that someone has lost sight of reality as a result of being too steeped in hyperspecific internet cultures. As a result, they might have zany opinions or bizarre behaviors without even realizing that most people don’t think or act that way.
    • Person 1: “Yeah dude she totally rizzed up the skibidi toilet until it became a gyatt sigma male. Cringe much?”
    • Person 2 : “Dude, you have to get off TikTok. You’ve got brainrot.”
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Section 2 of 6:

Using the Term “Brainrot”

  1. Step 1 Use “brainrot” to point out that another user is out of touch.
    Imagine you come across a TikTok urging you to donate money to fans of a certain show that’s being prematurely canceled in order to fund fan therapy sessions, since those fans need “emotional support” in this “trying time.” A bit off-base, right? You might reply with “brainrot” as a sort of wakeup call, to tell the person that perhaps they’re a bit too immersed in their own corner of the internet to see reason.
    • After all, a TV show cancellation isn’t exactly akin to a major trauma-inducing event that calls for therapy, so asking for money feels a bit far-out and irrational.
  2. Step 2 Use “brainrot” to tell someone that they’re unintelligible.
    Sometimes we come across people online who are so absorbed in their hyperspecific internet culture that they don’t realize that the average person can’t understand their vocab, subject matter, or even just their line of thinking. You might hit them with a “brainrot” comment to try to snap them out of it.
    • Person 1: “I mean, I can’t help that I have a negative canthal tilt! No amount of mewing will give me an alpha jaw or hunter eyes. I’ll always be beta.”
    • Person 2: “Hey, your brainrot is showing.”
  3. Step 3 Use “brainrot” to bring someone back down to earth.
    Sometimes brainrot is just a matter of being a little too into something for a little too long. Like when your friend can’t stop talking about her favorite romance novels during your grandmother’s funeral. Or when your brother thinks he can fix your car because he’s been playing an auto mechanic simulator video game for 3000 hours straight.
    • Example: “Bro, did you just try to double jump in real life? You’ve been playing too many video games, you’ve got brainrot.”
    • Example: “Hate to pull you out of your brainrot, but real life isn’t like a fantasy novel. I don’t think the power of friendship is going to pay our rent.”
    • Example: “Honey, can you please drop the brainrot and stop watching Minecraft parkour videos with Walter White voiceovers? We’re trying to plan our wedding here.”
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Section 3 of 6:

Other Meanings of “Brain Rot”

  1. “Brain rot” is also a term for mental decline from too much internet.
    It’s not an actual medical phenomenon, but rather a slang term that’s usually used to say that someone spends a bit too much time online, or even just in front of a screen.[1] People use the term to discuss things like brain fog, poor attention span or critical thinking, falling prey to misinformation, or even just having questionable opinions.
    • Often, “brain rot” is a derogatory term aimed at internet users expressing views which are seen as absurd or foolish.
    • It’s unclear where the term originated, but it was used on Twitter/X as early as 2007.[2]
    • Example: “Jake just shared an article about how frogs are plotting to overthrow humanity. I think being online so much has given him a little brain rot.”
Section 4 of 6:

What causes brain rot?

  1. Brain rot is often caused by getting too much screen time.
    Let’s face it: as humans, we probably aren’t ready to see and hear so many voices, so often, and for so long, like we do online. That overload and exposure tends to reshape our brain function and behavior in many ways, both big and small, and the more time we spend online, the more reinforced those behaviors are.[3]
    • For example, TikTok is said to lead to short attention spans, given the format’s addictive stream of short-form content.
    • Social media algorithms often show you controversial content on purpose for the sake of engagement, which can cause emotional stress and aggression.
    • Also, too much time in fringe communities can influence someone’s beliefs and opinions negatively, especially without exposure to conflicting ideas that helps balance those beliefs.
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Section 5 of 6:

Signs & Effects of Brain Rot

  1. Step 1 Internet addiction
    It’s hard to step away from the steady stream of voices that live in our phones. In fact, many social media platforms are designed to be addictive, rewarding your engagement with “likes” and other interactions, and encouraging you to keep scrolling.[4] But when you’re on social media, you’re not doing other, healthier things, like exercising your body and mind.
    • Internet addictions often take the form of attachments to social media platforms or video games.
    • An internet addiction can manifest in other ways, too, like trying to “swipe” a book’s page to go to the next, rather than turning it.
  2. Step 2 Overfamiliarity with online subjects
    It’s hard to keep up with how fast the internet moves, but the pressure is there all the same. Someone with “brainrot” as it means in slang will often have extensive and intimate knowledge of niche online phenomena, like slang, memes, obscure drama, or discourse that only really occurs in online spaces, and which people wouldn’t usually discuss in real life.
    • Similarly, people may adhere to strange or absurd beliefs and opinions they’ve encountered online, and place undue importance on those opinions.
  3. Step 3 Poor attention span or memory
    The online world is an “attention economy,” meaning websites like social media platforms earn money by holding a monopoly on your attention. But there are many websites all competing for that attention, and so many users switch rapidly among them, or experience short-form content designed to keep them engaged, which erodes your attention span and even memory recall.[5]
  4. Step 4 Low critical thinking or media literacy
    “Media literacy” is your ability to read and interpret information and art you experience. Brainrot is often said to harm your critical thinking and media literacy skills, as users are less inclined to fact-check or think in-depth about the information and narratives they’re presented.[6]
    • Often, people with “brainrot” are said to react to online content impulsively, or according to superficial beliefs, rather than carefully processing how they think and feel before voicing their opinion.
  5. Step 5 Doomscrolling
    “Doomscrolling” is the habit of scrolling through social media and news feeds to witness every new bit of negative news and others’ opinions on it. It’s addictive, since there’s always something new to come across, and tends to negatively impact your mental health, increasing stress and depression.[7]
    • Doomscrolling can be appealing because it feels like you’re doing something responsible by keeping up with the news, but is frustrating in that there’s often little you can do about the news.
  6. Step 6 Brain fog
    “Brain fog” is a term that emerged from the pandemic to describe a general feeling of “slowness” after recovering from COVID. But brain fog symptoms, like poor planning, decision-making, or multitasking skills, can also arise with too much screen time. In fact, studies suggest that excessive screen time can even cause decreased gray matter in your brain.[8]
  7. Step 7 Depression or low self-esteem
    Too much internet can be a real tax on your self-esteem, especially if you’re using social media. There’s a constant race for likes and followers, and it feels important to appear perfect. Anything less, and you can start to feel less-than.[9] If you feel poorly after being online, you might have a slight case of brain rot.
  8. Step 8 Aggressive behavior online
    Having “brainrot” is an accusation often leveled at people who are seen as overly combative or out-of-touch online, or even in person. The idea is that someone has spent so much time online that they have a warped perspective of the real world, and are more likely to argue about small or inconsequential things.[10]
    • This accusation is also often accompanied by the phrase “chronically online,” which implies that someone is online so much they’re unable to log off.
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Section 6 of 6:

Avoiding & Reversing Brain Rot

  1. Step 1 Limit your casual screen time to 30-60 minutes a day.
    One of the best ways to prevent brain rot is to cut it off at its source. There’s no hard-and-fast rule about how much is too much, but medical experts recommend putting your phone down virtually whenever possible.[11] Start by limiting yourself to just 30-60 minutes of social media day, or less.
    • Many phones now have built-in screen time trackers, where you can see how long you’ve spent on your phone, doing what, and control your phone usage.
    • There are also a number of apps that limit screen time by disabling your phone when you’ve used it too much.
  2. Step 2 Curate who you see online.
    Social media is what you make of it, and the best way to reduce stress and protect yourself from bad opinions, and even harassment, is to block people liberally.[12] Also, choose the people you follow carefully, and don’t hesitate to unfollow them if seeing their content makes you anxious or depressed.
  3. Step 3 Engage your brain with books and art.
    Social media and other online content are like fast food for your brain—they keep you entertained, but don’t necessarily require a lot of muscle to process or digest. Keep your brain young and healthy by engaging with more challenging things, like books, music, movies, or even puzzles like sudoku or crosswords, instead of being online.[13]
    • Break out a blank page and sketch whatever comes to mind, or swap social media time with journaling.
  4. Step 4 Exercise and spend time outside.
    Exercise is as important for your brain as puzzles and problem-solving! It helps your brain develop new nerve cells and circulates oxygen-rich blood throughout your brain, which improves brain functioning.[14] Aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.[15]
    • Go for a run, walk, or hike outside in the sunshine. Or, get involved with club sports, to make exercise a routine obligation.
  5. Step 5 Hang out with people in-person.
    It’s easy to lose your socializing muscles when your primary form of socialization is online. You tend to forget how people interact when they’re face-to-face, and the etiquette involved. Stay more present and adjusted by making it a point to interact with friends, family, and loved ones at least as often as you talk to people online. Socializing is great for your brain![16]
    • Hit up a cafe or bar, attend a concert, or just stroll through the stalls of a market to get your daily fill of facetime.
  6. Step 6 See a therapist to talk about struggles with internet addiction.
    If you feel that your screen time is negatively impacting your life, and you struggle to kick the habit, consider seeing a therapist. A licensed professional can help devise strategies and solutions to get you offline and into the real world.
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