The “we live in a society” meme is part of an internet culture of unapologetic absurdity which only makes sense from the inside looking out.

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The “we live in a society” meme that you may (or TBH, may not have) seen floating across timelines and comment sections of the web has such a convoluted history that, 30 years from now, we’ll probably be seeing the meme dissected in textbooks as the pinnacle of 2015-2020 internet ethos.


The internet has a habit of folding in on itself. And as online humour grows increasingly nuanced and bizarre, it can be difficult for mere mortals to detangle it in order to understand. With stereotypes that are incubated in the depths of the web and un-clocked in the analogue world, it can make looking at one meme an internet history lesson in itself. So, for today’s lesson, here’s everything you need to know about the “we live in a society” meme.

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What is the “we live in a society” meme?

Typically, the “we live in a society” meme is connected to the Joker, either featuring the character himself or editing other people to look like the green-haired, red-lipped man.

If you aren’t aware of this meme – or have just come to accept you probably aren’t deep enough into the internet to get it – don’t worry, that’s the entire point of its appeal… an “I don’t get it meme”, if you will.


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The meme is filed under the absurdist meme genre, a flavour of memes that, from the outside, are totally nonsensical unless you have a strong and oddly specific back catalogue of internet acuity.


It’s similar to the ‘society if meme’, ‘did you know meme’ or the ‘they live meme’, which also uses absurdist humour to unpack existential angst by speculating about ‘society’, if things were changed.

millennial and zoomer humour is a lot of meme-style jokes – absurdist and dadaist style stuff and also a lot of jokes about mental health and nihilism.

— DoktorDare ~Depressive Demon Nightmare Enby~ (
DaringEmber) October 24, 2020

So where does “we live in a society” meme come from? The earliest trace of its origins can be found on Hong Kong-based meme site 9gag in April 2015. This is in the form of an image macro of the Joker, accompanied by the caption: “When the nice guy loses his patiance (sic) / the devil shivers.”

This particular meme struck gold for a few reasons. Firstly, the whole “nice guys finish last” gamer/incel superiority complex has long been a running joke in the commentary of 9gag. Similar to the ‘get a load of this society’ meme, the meme is stopped in nerdily-tinted misogyny that’s commonplace in brocialist circles.

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This meme is just pure sardonicism: channelling the Joker to symbolise a higher than average IQ, and then misspelling “patience”. The joke wrote itself. As of a couple of months ago, the meme had garnered upwards of 38,600 points and 520 comments on 9gag, with much of the engagement boosted by ironic trolls wanting to make sure this meme became the absolute epitome of the meme site.

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The DC supervillain has long been connected to the gamer identity, and following the release of The Dark Knight in 2008, it became a sort of figurehead for an entire incel community.

We live in a society where an educated man marries an uneducated women but an educated woman doesn't marry an undeucated man