Book Twitter loves jumping on a meme and making it literary, and I am here for it. This meme started in 2019, but it gained popularity in September of 2021. It satirizes the performative unfollowing/softblocking of problematic people on Twitter by taking it to the extreme: “Oof, okay, softblocking now. Followed him for his jokes, didn’t realize he ritually sacrificed goats to gain mystical power.”
The appeal is partly the acknowledgement of the weird landscape of social media, where you can be guilty by association by following someone without knowing everything they’ve ever done or said, but also — in this case — in the aha moment of understanding the allusion.
As always, if you want the whole history of where this started, you can check out Know Your Meme, along with lots of non-bookish examples. But why slog through general references when you can get this curated list of all bookish ones?
The September incarnation of this meme started with a Yu-Gi-Oh! reference:
oof sorry, unfollowing now. really enjoyed his game design work, didn’t know he trapped the soul of yugi’s grandpa in a duel monsters card
— meaning machine (@EricThurm) September 5, 2021
It’s not a bookish Twitter meme without William Carlos Williams.
Wow, okay, unfollowing now. Was a big fan of his poetry, didn’t realize he’d eaten the plums that were in the icebox and that you’d probably been saving for breakfast.
— Tea Berry-Blue (@teaberryblue) September 9, 2021
Fairy tale and mythological characters also got in on the action.
wow, ok, unfollowing now. was a big fan of her house made of sweets, was not aware she used it to lure children into her oven to cook & eat them
— Brona C. Titley (@bronactitley) September 8, 2021
ok wow… unfollowing now. was a big fan of their music but i was not aware they were using it to lure sailors to a watery grave by dashing their ships against the rocky coast of their island
— old tom (@YuckyTom) September 8, 2021
ok wow… unfollowing now. was a big fan of his flying carpet and musical genie but i wasn’t aware he stole these from an enchanted cave and was using them to seduce a princess with grandiose displays of wealth
— chunky fila (@chunkyfila) September 8, 2021
wow, ok, unfollowing now. was a big fan of his pipe music and rat extermination business, was not aware he lured 130 children away from their home to never be seen again due to a payment disagreement.
— Graham (@blessedorkirst) September 8, 2021
“The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe was a popular choice to cancel, and is it a bookish memes list without SparkNotes?
oof sorry, unfollowing now. really enjoyed his wine, had no idea he lured a man into the catacombs on the promise of a fine vintage and bricked him up in the wall
— SparkNotes (@SparkNotes) September 7, 2021
In retrospect, Willy Wonka was definitely problematic.
wow, ok, unfollowing now. was a big fan of his chocolate factory but was not aware his workers were instructed to perform fully choreographed iconic performances while five children nearly died
— josh (@imjoshhbu) September 8, 2021
You can’t even enjoy a nice piece of jewelry without being complicit in evil.
oh wow okay, unfollowing now. was a big fan of his jewellery line, was not aware he tricked everybody and tried to become the most powerful being in middle-earth :
— anna 🏹 (@myelessar) September 8, 2021
Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events may be a great actor, but he’s a pretty bad dude.
yikes, unfollowing him now. i was a fan of his acting, i didn’t realize he was tricking his adopted daughter into marrying him so he could seize her and her siblings’ massive fortune after their parents died in a suspicious fire
— viking (@notviking) September 9, 2021
wow okay, unfollowing now. I admired his eclectic fashion sense and his passion for community theater, but had no idea he would stop at nothing to steal the Baudelaire orphans’ fortune
— eli likes the matrix (@heymisterwallet) September 9, 2021
How was I supposed to know to be suspicious of someone named Cruella De Vil?
wow, ok, unfollowing now. was a big fan of her fur coats, was not aware she made them out of dalmatians
— the hype (@TheHyyyype) September 8, 2021
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde had its moment, too.
wow, ok, unfollowing now. was a big fan of that painting of him, was not aware he traded his soul to stay eternally young.
— Andrew Nadeau (@TheAndrewNadeau) September 8, 2021
You take candy from strangers one time and suddenly you’re betraying your family and also the entire kingdom of Narnia.
wow, ok, unfollowing now. was a big fan of her gifts of Turkish delight, was not aware she usurped the throne and enchanted the land into a hundred-year state of ice and snow that was always winter but never christmas
— J.R.R. Jokin (@joshcarlosjosh) September 8, 2021
I can’t resist a Holes by Louis Sachar joke.
Okay wow unfollowing now. Did not realize that she was forcing teen convicts to dig holes in the desert
— Vinny Thomas (@vinn_ayy) September 9, 2021
And here’s another middle grade book reference, this time from Coraline by Neil Gaiman.
wow unfollowing her now. i was a huge fan of her worldbuilding, had no idea she was sewing buttons into children’s eyes and stealing their souls
— 🍊 (@kassneck) September 9, 2021
I had to include this two-for-one take on horror classics!
wow, ok, unfollowing now. was a big fan of his ability to reanimate the dead, was not aware he was such a terrible father :
— ashia monet 🌙🕯 (@AshiaMonet) September 9, 2021
The Princess Bride by William Goldman should really come with a warning that it’s a kissing book.
Ok wow, unfollowing now. I was into the fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, and miracles, but I was not aware this was a kissing book.
— ⚔️ Cate Pearce ✝️🏳️🌈 (@cate_pearce) September 9, 2021
Can we really trust Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz?
Oof, sorry, unfollowing now. Really enjoyed her tales of traveling to a new city with her little dog, had no idea she killed a woman and stole her shoes.
— Amanda (@Pandamoanimum) September 8, 2021
It’s not just manga references: superhero comics get a shoutout with this Batman take.
wow, ok, unfollowing now. was a big fan of his career, thought he was a philanthropist, had no idea he was embezzling from the company to fund his hobby of beating up homeless and mentally ill folks while dressed like a bat
— Moon-faced Assassin of Joy (@NomeDaBarbarian) September 9, 2021
And finally, that awkward moment when you are just celebrating the joy of clowns and it turns out to be Pennywise.
yikes, unfollowing him now. I’m just a big fan of clowns I had no idea he was killing kids in the sewers
— skáld (@HoratioSkald) September 9, 2021
Looking for more bookish Twitter round ups? Check out If Romance Novels Have Taught Me Anything (A Tweet Round Up) and Being Vaccinated Does NOT Mean (Bookish Edition).
Read more: bookriot.com