What is a story, a joke, or a question without context? More often than not, it’s confusing, nonsensical, and probably not worth your time. Usually, context is everything.
Twitter humor is one of a kind, always evolving, and frankly sometimes unhinged. It’s marvelous. It’s relatable. It’s a platform that I’m certain most parents couldn’t even find on the internet. And recently I’ve come to realize that when the content is good enough, it needs no caption and absolutely no context.
If you’re an avid Tweeter, you may have seen no context (sometimes referred to as “out of context”) Twitter accounts gaining popularity on your feed. And frankly, I’m more than here for it. I mean, come on what’s not to like:
— out of context the office (@officecontexts) September 12, 2018
You’d think as someone who writes social copy for a living that I’d hate the barren place where captions should be and the down right simplicity of these accounts. How dare they strip the integrity of social media posting and good old fashioned sensible humor!
But I don’t hate them. In fact, I love them. I love them so much that I want to take them out to a nice seafood dinner and laugh about the life, love, and the pursuit of borderline happiness. Especially you, John Mulaney Out of Context. You crazy bastard.
— out of context john mulaney (@nocontxtmulaney) December 25, 2018
Aren’t these accounts simply regurgitating content that already exists on these TV shows? They’re just screenshots. You could just watch it on Netflix and appreciate the joke in its entirety. Isn’t that how it was meant to be received?
I hear you. I really do. But stay with me here. These accounts are giving these jokes new legs. They’re evolving into their final forms. Without context, they’re up for interpretation—even if you know the original joke.
Sure, a screengrab of The Office will always be funny to me. I’ll admit it—I’m that nightmare of a television consumer who spent several years binging that show exclusively. Over and over. But when I can look at something without having seen the episode, and feel a part of the joke? That’s comedy gold.
With that being said, I give you my favorite no context tweet of all time:
— no context nathan (@NathanForYouOoC) October 8, 2017
Frankly, I don’t care what’s going on here. It’s incredible. It’s everything I want it to be. And knowing Nathan For You, it’s probably elaborate, strange, and wouldn’t end up making much sense anyway. Just enjoy it.
That’s the beauty of these accounts: we’re taking these jokes at face value. Sometimes there aren’t even any subtitles, and that’s when things really get interesting. Leave it to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to gift us with the beauty of simplicity:
— sunny out of context (@iasipmeme) April 29, 2018
— sunny out of context (@iasipmeme) February 24, 2018
Aaaaand, relatable. Is it bad that I’m heavily identifying with the lifestyle of Frank Reynolds, inarguably the biggest human garbage can on television? Maybe. But it’s Twitter, baby! No rules.
The trend of these Twitter accounts has been on the rise, and some social media savvy companies have taken the hint. Netflix’s new (and utterly enjoyable) show Sex Education actually made their verified Twitter account a full on no context account for the show. Genius marketing.
— sex education (@sexeducation) January 26, 2019
If you don’t know what’s going on here, it doesn’t matter. Send this to your enemy and call it a day.
Twitter is a very special place for me. As a writer, it’s where I get to spew my random thoughts and half-baked jokes. This has proven to be slightly more gratifying than keeping a journal and infinitely more embarrassing. But most importantly, it’s where I can share an inside joke with millions of strangers, but never actually interact with them IRL because, you know:
— no context nathan (@NathanForYouOoC) October 31, 2017
These accounts have taken what everyone loves about Twitter and wrapped it up into a beautiful little package with your favorite comedians face all over it. You want something strangely vague, definitely weird, undeniably shareable, and #relatable? I give you:
— out of context the office (@officecontexts) December 6, 2018
Boom. Peak Twitter.