'Be like Bill' if you want people to get annoyed and block your Facebook posts
Good news, Bill haters! There's an easy way to block 2016's most-annoying meme yet from your Facebook feed
This is Bill.
Bill is a stick figure that dishes out passive-aggressive behavioural advice to people on the internet through single-pane comics that are also sometimes funny.
Bill had a relative monopoly on this practice until about two weeks ago, when everyone you went to high school with decided that they, too, wanted to "Be Like Bill" and started sharing witticisms of their own using Bill's likeness.
Be like Bill backlash began soon thereafter, prompting many to decry the meme as "annoying" and seek out ways to remove it from their Facebook feeds forever.
Now, thanks to widely-circulated instructions for doing just that, the masses are cutting off Bill in his tracks – along with anyone using a BLB image generator to bite his snarky style.
This is Uma.. She killed bill. <a href="https://t.co/gRxiDzimNp">pic.twitter.com/gRxiDzimNp</a>—@Jules_Clarke
So go ahead, ladies and gentlemen. Be like Bill.
But you may end up getting blocked.
What in the heck is 'Be Like Bill'?
While the exact origin of the illustration used for this meme is unknown, instances of similar comics can be found online dating back to at least 2010.
Know Your Meme reports that an image almost identical to the one that propelled 2016's Be Like Bill to viral fame was uploaded to Joy Reactor in March of that year, and that a similarly-styled series of illustrations were used for an Australian railway line PSA in 2011.
Be Like Bill as we know it today started showing up on forums like Reddit and Funny Junk in October of 2015, according to Know Your Meme, but it didn't explode until earlier this month after the creation of a dedicated "Be Like Bill" Facebook page.
BBC News reported on Jan. 18 that a man named Eugeniu Croitoru, a Moldovan living in Milan, had created the page and was running it with a colleague.
"The idea is very simple," he told the BBC. "'Bill' can be anyone who is smart and has common sense and doesn't do annoying things. You'll also notice Bill can be someone who makes fun of himself and jokes about others too occasionally."
These jokes often take the form of social commentary, and tend to target things like internet bragging, poor public etiquette and other such obnoxious human behaviours.
They almost always include an illustration of Bill the stick figure standing up and wearing a toque (or "beanie," for our American friends.) Sometimes, the character sits at a computer, goes to the gym, or appears with another stick figure.
Croitoru's Be Like Bill page has accumulated more than 1.5 million Facebook fans less than one month after its creation, thanks in part to a heavy wave of news and viral media coverage following the BBC's initial profile.
"In many ways, Bill is a perfect storm of the modern memescape," wrote New York Magazine's The Cut in one of the first pieces on the trend. "He's got a rudimentary art style that's simple to replicate, and he embodies the scolding, holier-than-thou behavior endemic to social media."
Like much of the criticism to come, the piece went on to contend that "Bill represents social media's worst impulse: the claim to moral superiority wrapped in nagging, passive-aggressive complaint. Bill is every subtweet, every behaviour-policing Facebook status update, every smug and condescending comment, illustrated exactly as crudely as the sentiment deserves."
It wasn't Bill's smarmy brand of social commentary that did him though.
In fact, things might have been okay for the meme if it had remained within the confines of a Facebook page that users had explicitly signed up for.
What happened instead was that a company named Blobla created a Be Like Bill generator, allowing anyone with a Facebook account to enter their own name, choose a sassy phrase, and encourage their entire network to "Be Like" them in just a few clicks.
It was terrible.
'Be Like Bill' backlash begins
Bill jumped the shark faster than Left Shark himself following the spread of Blobla's viral generator late last week.
Criticism of how "spammy" the images seemed mounted to a fever pitch over the weekend as more and more people made and shared their own versions of Be Like Bill.
Be Like Bill. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BeMoreHuman?src=hash">#BeMoreHuman</a> <a href="https://t.co/Ffyj1wnlEa">pic.twitter.com/Ffyj1wnlEa</a>—@Reebok
Adding insult to injury, Missouri-based CBS affiliate KFVS-TV reported on Wednesday that using the Be Like Bill generator could pose security threats to your computer based on Blobla's Terms of Service (which have since been changed.)
Regardless of whether you've used the generator, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself from being annoyed by Bill again.
How to kill Bill (from your Facebook feed)
Getting rid of the Be Like images is even easier than using a viral content bot to create them.
The next time you see one of the Be Like Bill generator illustrations from Blobla in your feed, click on the drop-down arrow in the right hand corner of that post.
Select "Hide All From" to eliminate future posts from that service from showing up in your newsfeed again.
If you want to be really certain that the individual sharing these memes won't continue spamming your feed, you can select "Unfollow" to block their updates out without actually unfriending them.
Or you can simply let them know that that this meme is dead.
The internet has killed Bill.
To be honest I don't want to be like Bill, he seems a smug know it all. <a href="https://t.co/FZ5e9jRmsa">pic.twitter.com/FZ5e9jRmsa</a>—@DamnVelo