Doomer: The Meaning Behind the Meme
And how to rise out of this mindset!
The internet is rife with memes, and everyone, from young people to Boomers love them. Some memes are motivational, some make us laugh, and others tell us a little bit about ourselves.
Often, these memes come and go like waves in the ocean—some make a huge splash, while some will disappear almost as quickly as they start, and future generations will never hear of them. Then, there are others that take on a life of their own.
Another popular meme character is the Doomer. Not to be confused with the Gloomer and Boomer—more on the distinctions below. Essentially, the Doomer is a riff on a person whose mindset is, well, embroiled in doom.
Below, we explore the origin of the meme, what it means, how to know if you might consider yourself a doomer, and tips to lift yourself out of this potentially caustic outlook on life.
The Doomer meme began in September 2018 with a line drawing of a young man, seen from the chest up. He’s a version of another Internet meme, Feels Guy, which is also known as Wojak.
Wojak started as a simple line drawing of a bald man showing a wistful expression. It is used to show a variety of melancholy emotions like loneliness and sadness. There are now many versions of this emotion-showing Feels Guy, including Doomer.
Doomer starts as this same Feels Guy archetype, but is wearing a black beanie and black hoodie, with a cigarette between his lips and a forlorn look in his eye. Squiggly, wobbly lines accent his neck, highlighting his wavering emotional instability. The character is surrounded by a variety of disheartening phrases under the title “The 23-Year Old Doomer.”
The captions for this meme include “Maybe plays PS1…sometimes,” “Alcoholism,” “Ashamed to speak with family,” “Another night in,” “No hope of career advancement,” “tried reading…tried fashion…tried lifting,” “High risk for opioid addiction,” “Hasn’t made a friend since 2012,” “Lost Youth,” “Cares…but knows there’s nothing he can do,” “Cloud rap,” “Has a Tinder but too disgusted to use it,” and “nightwalk.”
You get the idea. In a word, this dude is depressed.
This meme resonates with a certain subculture of Millenials that feels disheartened by the current state of the world. Loneliness, mental health concerns, worries about climate change and well, an impending sense of doom are feelings many people can relate to today.
In fact, there’s an onslaught of super heavy issues to feel disheartened about in all the latest news — racial justice, police violence, issues with the environment, poverty, culture wars, the increasingly fraught political divide, the list goes on.
Doomer is depressed, anxious, and generally living in despair. He’s given up. Maybe he’s no longer pursuing friendships like he used to, and the unlimited access to information on the internet has soured his worldview. He feels like he’s tried to make a difference but failed. And that future failure is inevitable.
Many young men and women feel the same way as our friend with the black hair, either because they personally struggle with mental health concerns, or they feel overwhelmed by the many plights facing their generation.
A hopeless future for future generations
Even before the pandemic, the Doomer was self-isolating, lonely, and hopeless about his future—and the future of the world. He’s bored. He’s disenchanted with the culture around him. He sees corruption, failure, and evil at every turn. He’s given up. He feels like a loser and doesn’t feel that anything he does can change his lot in life. Basically, society and recent history have beaten him down to the point where he’s simply stopped even trying.
Many young adults understand this persona. Even if they themselves don’t go quite so dark in their view of humanity, they can relate to the mindset of this doom-filled character. And for those that do feel quite depressed about the state of the world and/or their life, they can see a bit of themselves in this meme.
In fact, maybe the appeal is that this meme can soak up any of the many negative feelings that seem brewing more and more these days, and reflect them back.
The Doomer persona is not just for men, there’s Doomer Girl, too. According to The Atlantic, she first came to life as a character in a sexist cartoon world envisioned by “angry men.”
They had had Doomer Girl cast as a self-absorbed, mean girl who wouldn’t date Doomer. However, something about this goth-ish girl appealed to women, who took off with the idea. They re-made across the Internet as a wholly new creation that embodied a dark, slightly sad, but very cool vibe.
The angry betty boop
While Doomer is rather downtrodden, the gloomy energy from Doomer Girl comes off as stylish. She’s a little bit depressed, a little bit goth, and very hip. The character is drawn with a chic dark bob, rosy cheeks, dark eyes, and red lips.
She wears a black choker and black top. Kind of an anti-Betty Boop for the 2020s. And teen girls and young women who relate to her dark side have embraced her—and started dressing up as her in droves.
Doomer, Gloomer, Bloomer, Zoomer
In addition to Doomer Girl, there are many recent -oomer memes popular on the Internet that are related to this archetype. While the Doomer is the sad, down-and-out, brooding dude holed up in his bedroom, there is Gloomer who is depressed but hasn’t given up quite to the same extent. Yes, Gloomer feels defeated and, well, gloomy, but he retains just enough hope to keep him from fully giving in to the doom.
Bloomers are a more optimistic, upbeat, outgoing 20-something. The term bloomer was inspired by the idea that some Millennials possess traits favored by the Baby Boomer generation—a positive attitude and a passion for living life to the fullest. Plus, Bloomer is a riff on blooming, as flowers are known to do. The Bloomer has a smile on his or her face and a can-do attitude in their heart. He stops and smells the roses, has an active social life, and works toward achieving his goals.
The Zoomer, on the other hand, is a reference to the “Z” in Generation Z—people born from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. Similar to Baby Boomers, Zoomers are upwardly mobile, generally cheerful (especially in contrast to the other iterations of this meme), and live life with an extra “zip” in their step.
In fact, the term was first used as a nickname for gleeful, “zooming” Baby Boomers—those born in the post-WWII era, from the late 1940s to early 1960s. The term was then repurposed for active, social, “zooming” Gen Zs, particularly those that are all about social media, living their lives online, utilizing digital technology, and killing it with their careers.
Which one are you?
Unclear which of these -oomers generational archetypes embodies you the most? Well, if you’re not sure, then maybe none of them, as certainly they are character extremes that don’t fit everyone. But consider if you tend more toward pessimism, as in doom and gloom, or more toward the positive outlook shared by Bloomers and Zoomers.
If melancholy is your thing, you may be more akin to Doomers and Gloomers. Both of these types are depressed to some extent, but the Doomer will have depression that’s more deeply entrenched, while the Gloomer is in despair but a bit less glum. On the other hand, if you live in the sunny side, live an active work and personal life, you may be more of a Zoomer or Bloomer.
The original Doomer has morphed into countless clones that have a tweak or two, creating a deary subset of Doomer progeny.
- The 24-Year Old Jobless Doomer
- The 20-Year Old College Freshman Doomer
- Doomer Girl
- The Actually Doing a Little Better Doomer
These variations are often accented with additions. College guy is wearing glasses and jobless doomer has longer hair and a thin moustache. Sometimes, they are portrayed together, particularly with Doomer Girl, but celebrities, such as actor Jim Carrey, also often get paired with a Doomer or two in various popular memes.
Are you a doomer?
While this character is an archetype of an ultra depressed Millennial, it’s important to note that in real life there are many people struggling with a negative mindset that’s keeping them down.
If you relate to the extreme melancholy of the Doomer, know that help is out there. Even if you consider yourself a Doomer and also feel the loneliness, despair, and hopelessness embodied by this meme, there are ways to break out of its hold.
Tips for young adults: How to rise out of this mindset
First off, if you are a Doomer, know that getting yourself out of this negative mindset is not always easy but that it is possible. In fact, even untreated, according to the National Institutes of Health, typically bouts of depression last between six to eight months. So, there is a light at the end of the tunnel…even if where you are feels very dark.
Secondly, treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, which are commonly associated with this Internet meme, can be effectively treated, often reducing the severity and duration of episodes of struggle. Treatments include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, depression medications, and support groups.
Additionally, there are a number of lifestyle changes that can do that often work wonders to help lift you out of a funk. These include all the basics of good health and general wellness, such as adopting healthy sleep habits, eating well-balanced, nutritious meals, and exercising regularly.
Other helpful tactics include reaching out to friends and family for support—or even just to add some socializing into your day-to-day life. Pursuing hobbies and other interests you enjoy can help, too—even if you don’t feel like it.
Basically, anything that can bring a smile to your face – whether that’s eating a cookie, reading a good book, texting with an old friend, or perusing motivational memes – can help you see a bit of the joy that’s out there in the world.
Breaking toxic habits
Also, it’s important to consider if you have any toxic habits (or relationships) that you may need a break from. Are you obsessively taking in negative news about our world that’s bringing you down? If so, you may need to cut back on your “research” if it is harming your mental health. Aim to focus on actions instead.
Do you have friends that are fixated on the negative and leave you feeling lower and lower? If you’re absorbing their pesissism, you may want to cut your ties—at least until you come up for air yourself.
It’s important to recognize that your attitude—and how you react to your feelings and life events— does make a difference. You have agency in your own life, your happiness, and the trajectory of your mental health. Yes, for some people this is a true struggle, and brain chemistry, heredity, and life events also pay a big role.
But you can choose to focus on the positive. You can choose to go for a walk, even though you feel like staying in bed. You can decide you will send in your resume for that job you fear you’ll never get. You can call your mom, even if you worry that she’ll see how sad you are. You can ask for help when you need it.
Most importantly, be patient and loving to yourself as you dig yourself out of this dark place–and leave Doomer behind.
A Doomer is a popular Internet meme that typifies the doom that many Millenials feel. But even if you feel you’re a Doomer, know that that’s not all you are. And you don’t have to stay a Doomer for life.
Instead, aim to embrace the good and the hope that really is out there. Most importantly, know that while the Doomer meme can make us laugh, real depression is a serious mental health concern. So, give yourself grace as you heal and cope with the big feelings of sadness and despair that can come with this mindset and condition.
And get yourself the help you need to heal and come around to a sunnier view of life.