A couple of years ago, Tumblr’s official Meme Librarian explained to us that fall, and by extension, Halloween, is the time of the year when some of these universal memes cross over between otherwise entrenched online fandoms and subcultures. Not everyone cares about Harry Potter fan fiction, but pretty much anyone can appreciate what this skeleton is bringing to the table:
Spooky culture is not about staring into the abyss of the worst of humanity and trying to survive. It’s about taking a break from that part of the Internet and embracing the part of yourself that might think spiders can be kind of adorable.
So, in the spirit of October, here’s a quick guide to embracing everything spooky:
Enthusiasm instead of terror
Participating in spooky culture is victimless. There are no targets for terrifying pranks. There is only transformative enthusiasm.
A couple of years ago, the “September 30th vs. October 1st” meme began, which is probably the perfect encapsulation of this phenomenon of diving into Halloween season headfirst:
Skeletons are such a popular October meme template that they’ve also become their own subculture. There is, of course, the “Spooky Scary Skeletons” song, which has been paired with countless videos of a dancing skeleton. Here’s one with more than 20 million views:
Another extremely good skeleton meme is Doot Doot, the skeleton with a horn that goes doot. Like other skeleton memes, Doot Doot owes its popularity to a revival of interest in an old piece of art. According to Know Your Meme, this skeleton man likely emerged from Microsoft 3D Movie Maker in the ’90s but became a meme in 2011.
This is the original Doot Doot:
The doot has been remixed several times. Here’s one version, which contains some graphic language and a bit of a buildup:
One of the best corrections in the history of journalism was in October 2013, when the New York Times accidentally referred to censorship and free expression expert Jillian C. York by her Twitter display name, Chillian J. Yikes!
Creating a spooky alter ego is a Halloween tradition on the platform. And while it’s nowhere near as widespread as it was a few years ago, the October name change is still the go-to way to put seasonal decorations on your Twitter account. The more wholesome and goofy the pun, the better. And unlike other Twitter jokes that are popular with the site’s power users, Halloween names are easy to create and understand.
And here is what The Washington Post’s Halloweenified account would look like:
Specifically this dancing pumpkin man
A decade-old dance on a local news program in Omaha has become, by far, the most recognizable expression of Halloween spookiness. Just as the leaves turning colors signal that fall has arrived, the dancing pumpkin showing up in your social media feed as a GIF is the telltale sign that spooky season is here.