The Brief: Memes about the pros and cons of being perceived combine philosophical concepts with meme humor to represent some of the complexities of existence.


Similar to the meme concept of “the mortifying ordeal of being known” and “the rewards of being loved,” internet memes about being perceived by others reflect how jarring it can be to exist in the world.

The ideas exhibited in these memes both directly and indirectly reference philosophical, psychological, and sociological concepts about the self. While people may have ideas about what it means to exist as themselves, the construction of “the self” is somewhat dependent on how they are viewed and perceived by others.

COVID-19 related quarantine measures have led many people to rethink what it means to be perceived while physically isolated from the rest of the world. For those who are staying in their homes close to 24/7, opportunities for people to perceive them occur mainly on social media. This means that Instagram stories, dating app profiles, Reddit accounts, etc. are becoming some of the only reflections of the self that are presented to the outside world. Some people who are living in isolation except for their online presence are finding that being perceived on social media makes them feel uncomfortable and exposed.

‘Being Perceived’ Memes

While there’s more to the complexities of being perceived than a simple image macro or tweet may be able to represent, these memes showcase some musings about trials and tribulations of the human experience.