Gen Alpha are growing up, which means that some of them are now reaching the age where they can fully explore the internet and graduate from the subject of the memes, to the creators of the memes. The toddlers are turning into teenagers, and it’s safe to say that it’s making us gen Zers feel, well, old.
For the last few years, many gen Zers on TikTok have been roasting millennials for their awkward humour, their memes, and their love for avocado toast. These roasts have come in all sorts of forms, from the highly cringe way millennials use emojis to the straight-up awkward ways they make TikToks.
However, it might be that the tables are now being turned on us. With gen Alpha growing up and pouring onto platforms like TikTok and Instagram, us gen Zers are officially becoming the “older, out of touch” ones. It’s no understatement to say that it’s a terrifying, terrifying time. So, rather than fall into a Diet Coke-induced panic, let’s delve into who gen Alpha really is, and how they’ve already begun to transform online culture.
Gen Alpha are the generation that comes right after gen Z, so basically anyone who’s born between the years 2010 and 2025 qualifies. This means, some of the oldest members of gen Alpha are now entering their teenage years, and thus, probably spending a little more time online.
A unique thing about this particular generation is that, unlike some of their older predecessors, they have never lived in a world where the internet, social media, or smartphones didn’t exist—I don’t think they’d even know what a flip phone is. Just to give you an idea, the first ever iPhone came out in 2007, Facebook, aka Meta, became available to the general public in 2006, and Instagram launched in 2010. I know, it’s making me feel old too.
This dynamic underscores the significant role that social media and technology have played in shaping the lives of these children—hence why so many of them are famously referred to as ‘iPad babies’. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re so keen to establish their own personal internet culture.
So what does internet and meme culture look like for gen Alpha? One emerging meme trending among the Alphas right now is the ‘Skibidi toilet’. Yup, you read that correctly. It’s basically a video series which depicts these evil toilets with scary faces who’ve supposedly taken over the world and are now fighting each other.
It all started in a YouTube series from a creator called DaFuq!? Boom!, who currently has over 23.7 million subscribers. In a number of the YouTuber’s videos, the user posts different episodes of these toilets fighting with one another. Many of these videos also exist on TikTok as shorter clips, with the popular TikTok song ‘Dom Dom Yes Yes’ always playing in the background.
Gen Alpha users are now sharing these memes with each other, and some are even editing their own videos, inserting new characters into these clips—primarily other internet icons like MrBeast and Shrek. The videos are often chaotic and nonsensical, just like so much of internet culture is. The ironic thing about Skibidi toilets is that much of their existing assets are comprised of models from games like Half-Life, which gen Alpha would never have grown up with, showing just how resourceful their generation is at repurposing the old for their own, strange memes.
A lot of other gen Alpha internet culture also revolves around platforms such as Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, and of course Discord. For example, there is an entire community hang-out space on Roblox that was created by the 11-year-old content creator Ryan Kaji. The young YouTuber runs a gen Alpha-focused channel with over 35.5 million subscribers.
It is important to note that while these platforms have allowed younger netizens to explore their identities and communities online, there has been valid criticism surrounding these sites’ tendency to expose young children to inappropriate content. Hopefully internet safety and safeguarding online will be something that is increasingly prioritised as gen Alpha continues to grow.
From what we’ve already seen, there definitely seems to be a big difference between the ways gen Alpha and gen Z inform, create, and engage with online culture. It’s only natural that gen Z aren’t going to relate to gen Alpha’s humour—that’s how ageing works. That doesn’t make it any less painful though. Having always been on the superior side of internet jokes, gen Zers are going to have to face the bitter reminder that youth is fleeting, and we sadly weren’t going to be the youngest generation forever.