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“Chat, is this real?” meme explained

The digital age has seen the birth of many catchphrases, but few have garnered as much intrigue as “Chat, is this real?” This phrase has become a staple in online interactions, particularly within the streaming community.

Origin of the Phrase

The phrase “Chat, is this real?” is a catchphrase that references a question frequently asked by streamers to their viewers, also known as “chat,” if a story or piece of content that they’re reacting to is real.

This phrase was popularized by the streamer iShowSpeed around March 2023. iShowSpeed often asks his chat, “Chat, is this real?” when reacting to content. He often asks the question ironically to content that has an obvious element of fakeness to it.

For example, on March 20th, 2023, iShowSpeed uploaded the VOD of one of his streams to YouTube in which, at the 50:40 mark, he watches a video of an AI-generated Elon Musk voice offering him a Tesla if he reacts to the video, asking the chat, “Is this real?”. The video gained over 1.4 million views in three months.

The phrase began to go viral after clips of iShowSpeed asking the question, often ironically to obviously fake content, started circulating. This inspired people to use it in similar ironic ways over faked content and as a way to ask people, “Can you believe this?”.

Usage of the Phrase

The phrase is often used in the context of live streaming, particularly on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Here’s a detailed look at its usage:

Usage in Live Streaming: In live streaming, the streamer often interacts with their viewers through a live chat. When the streamer encounters something surprising, shocking, or unbelievable in the content they’re reacting to, they might ask their chat, “Chat, is this real?”. This is a way for the streamer to engage with their audience and get their reactions.

Ironical Usage: The phrase is often used ironically when reacting to content that is obviously fake or exaggerated. For example, a streamer might ask “Chat, is this real?” when reacting to a clearly edited video or an unbelievable story.

Usage in Various Contexts: The phrase has been used in various contexts, including as a spam comment and in the descriptions of videos. For instance, viewers might spam the chat with “Chat, is this real?” as a joke or to troll the streamer. Similarly, video creators might use the phrase in their video descriptions or titles to attract viewers or to indicate that the video contains surprising or unbelievable content.

Spread of the Phrase

The phrase was popularized by the streamer iShowSpeed around March 2023. After clips of him asking the question, often ironically to obviously fake content, began to go viral, the phrase started to spread across various platforms.

Spread on TikTok: The phrase became particularly prevalent on TikTok throughout May 2023. It was used as a spam comment and in the descriptions of videos. For instance, the clip of iShowSpeed saying the line was reuploaded by TikToker @triplew3 on March 20th, 2023, garnering over 900,000 views in three months. It was also uploaded by TikToker @ishowspeedfinest on March 23rd, garnering over 5.5 million views in roughly the same span of time.

Spread on Twitter: On April 26th, Twitter user @ShootaCat posted an image of a sleeping kitten captioned “died,” writing, “Chat is this real?” and garnering over 3,200 likes in two months.

Spread on Instagram: On June 1st, Instagram users tyroneisaurousrex and nocontext.twt used the phrase in the descriptions of posts showing fake Twitter posts, garnering over 16,000 and 5,600 likes, respectively, in six days.

Definition on Urban Dictionary: On June 3rd, the term was then defined on Urban Dictionary. According to the definition, “Chat, is this real?” is a common generic question often asked by Twitch streamers to their viewers when shown a meme/video etc. they don’t understand.

Conclusion

“Chat, is this real?” exemplifies how a simple question can become a cultural touchstone, reflecting the collective humor and skepticism of the online world. Its widespread adoption is a testament to the power of community and the shared language that emerges from our digital interactions.

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