A Funky, Froggy Phenomenon | Alice Lin
For the past few years, frogs, also known as “phrögs,” have been steadily increasing in popularity and taking over the internet with nothing but good vibes. Frogs have consistently been a part of internet culture. Though many social media crazes die overnight, frogs are ever more relevant today, becoming part of a TikTok frog bread trend just this May. But how exactly did these funky little creatures capture the hearts of so many?
The beginning of this froggy phenomenon starts with a figure I’m sure we all recognize. The year is 2005, and Matt Furie has just unleashed upon the world what will become a symbol of our times, one of the most iconic amphibians to ever grace the internet: Pepe. With his puffy, folded eyelids sitting elegantly atop his protruding eyeballs, his mounded forehead, his thick, juicy lips, and the tiny white circles in his eyes indicating a sparkling lust for life, it’s no wonder the internet was captivated by his beauty. Pepe initially gained popularity on the anonymous imageboard site 4chan, and in 2015 “rare Pepes” began to be traded on the site. The same year, Pepe reached the mainstream media with celebrities Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj using the images. Though in recent years Pepe has been associated with the neo-Nazi alt-right and white supremacists, even being placed on the list for hate symbols by the Anti-Defemation League, just this year, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong have started to use Pepe as a symbol of hope for the future. Pepe has also been the face of several Twitch emotes, including but not limited to “Poggers,” “Pepega,” “widepeepoHappy/Sad,” “PepeHands,” and “monkaS.” He is still undoubtedly influential in this internet age, even though he might have passed his peak.
Another iconic frog is, of course, Kermit – the mascot of the Muppets, the saddest, most wholesome cloth frog to ever exist in this godforsaken universe. We know him from the tea meme, evil Kermit, and relatable face expressions that seem to capture an emotion we can’t quite describe. The first time Kermit really began being a part of internet culture was when a video of Kermit singing “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails was posted on YouTube. However, most of us (being far too young to watch any content like that) probably remember Kermit for his “But That’s None of my Business” and “evil Kermit” memes. One characteristic of Kermit that might explain his popularity is his familiarity- many of us grew up watching the Muppets and Sesame Street, and Kermit was a well-loved character in the shows. It’s easy to feel connected with something we’ve grown up knowing, and as a result Kermit is a very comfortable character to project onto and relate to. He’s a wholesome, relatable froggy friend, with a special and indescribable charm to him- what’s not to like?
In more recent news, frogs have come to be considered LGBTQA+ icons of sorts, a lesbian frog community forming on TikTok. Surprisingly, the initial idea of frogs being representatives of the queer community might have actually been as a result of a homophobic comment made by far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones: “I dont like ‘em putting chemicals in the water that turn the friggin’ frogs gay.” Or it could just be because frogs are a sort of alternative pet to the traditional dog and cat, allowing for more self-expression. They’re cute in kind of a weird way- bulging eyes and a distinct lack of fur, yet strangely enthralling to look at.
Frog bread and the froggy chair from Animal Crossing are recent trends that have further amplified the popularity of frogs. Frog bread initially gained popularity on TikTok, where users fell in love with it instantly. Baking bread was already gaining popularity during quarantine so why not shape your bread to be a froggy friend? The same concept applies to the froggy chair that appeared in the popular video game Animal Crossing. If I’m going to have a chair, why not make it look like a frog? The main point of these trends is to not take yourself too seriously- enjoy looking at everyday objects shaped like frogs because there’s no reason not to. They spark joy, and no other justification is needed.
Overall, the internet seems to love frogs because they just vibe- they do their own thing and they don’t need to do anything in particular to captivate fans nationwide. Whatever the future of these creatures looks like, it is undeniable that they have made their mark on the media and continue to be relevant today. They are truly unfrogettable critters!