The NPC Meme Is an Invitation to the Middle

February 3, 2019 Updated: February 3, 2019

Of all the memes that have been levelled at the radical left, the innoquous NPC has hit closest to home. The meme has quickly gained traction to become one of the most popular viral creations in the ideological online left vs. right war waging across North America. Sometimes described as  pro-Trump, the NPC meme is actually far more broad in its utility.

NPC refers to what is known in the gaming community as a non-player character. These characters run a pre-programmed pattern and have no capability for independent thought or behavior. They are peripheral characters with no utility to advance the game or operate outside their program. The implications are obvious.

The meme itself is a crude stick-figure face superimposed on the face of someone who is spouting ideological rhetoric. CNN news anchors are a favorite target.

It is not explicitly insulting or offensive and doesn’t divide across gender or racial lines. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find any overt offence in its bland aesthetic.

Yet the NPC meme has struck a nerve because it speaks to an uncomfortable truth about the ideologically possessed and their distortion of facts in favor of emotion.

The meme is geniusly strategic in that it simply questions a person’s ability or willingness to think objectively. It doesn’t divide across any other line. Although it has mostly targeted the left, it can be applied equally to anyone who is ideologically possessed. It has proven hard to reckon with for those it has been levied at, because to offer any ideologically tinted defense is to admit its validity.

Middle Ground

The conservative viewpoint on most contentious issues, such as abortion, climate change, and gender neutrality, are not discussed in the mainstream media. They are simply dismissed or hijacked by those whose sole goal is to ensure that the opposing side doesn’t get a voice. Feel strongly about an issue? Fan the flames of division and make sure your opponent is left humiliated, silenced, and defeated. It’s not a war of ideas, it’s a war of ideologies.

In this polarized climate, the rarest and most constructive conversations are taking place closer to the middle where proponents agree to disagree and discuss and weigh issues on their merit. Debate through analysis of the facts as they are, not how we wish them to be, assures that issues can be dismantled and debated on their merit, not on their affiliations.

The middle ground appears to be uncommon but there is ample evidence to suggest that the majority of North America is more nuanced than the major news networks would suggest. The networks need ratings and with the monetization of the news, sensationalism sells and soundbites rule. Twitter, the favored megaphone of the irrational is, by its very nature, nothing more than a shallow means of reducing the necessarily complex to the ideologically simplified.

Long-form discussion, the kind necessary to unpack complicated issues, is rare but absolutely necessary. The Munk debates, for example, allow the popular, polarizing figures of our time to debate and defend their ideas on a respectful, inquisitive stage where each can speak in turn, relying on the validity of their argument to win the day. Steve Bannon’s recent Munk appearance in Toronto was met with the same protests that accompany any public platform given to conservative thinkers. But democratic institutions depend on free-thinking and free-speaking individuals. It’s not productive, to say the least, to cow or be cowed into submission by threat or coercion.

The left has been more fervent and politicized in recent years. By blocking conservative speakers from campuses and drowning out those who disagree with their worldview, they may feel that they are winning a certain victory. It has become increasingly obvious, though, that their tactics are the result of an inability to articulate any thought that departs from the ideological programming.

Hence the NPC meme has, for all of its rudimentary characteristics, eloquently and effectively exposed these shallow tactics for what they are: An attempt to hijack free thought and replace it with an ideological lense that will homogenize and subordinate the people.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Ryan Moffatt
Ryan Moffatt
Ryan Moffatt is a journalist based in Vancouver.