But, in addition to symbolizing despair, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ can be wielded as a Zen-like tool to accept the chaos of universe. Meditate on its wide eyes and upturned mouth; that’s not the expression of a quitter, it’s the carefree face of #blessed, radical openness.
Yet it also transcends the Internet and perhaps language itself, echoing incoherent expressions of sublime rage or terror, like the untranslatable keyboard smash, “asdfasldkvhjasd.” “There’s no parallel word, but it stands in for any number of horrified and numb and nihilistic sentiments… like ‘I don’t even have the bandwidth to comprehend how terrible this all is,’” Osberg said. She suggested an example sentence: “Would mass human extinction rly even be a bad thing? I awno ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”