Hmmm. Hmmm? Hmmm! Allow us to introduce you to r/hmmm, a popular online community on Reddit that boasts over 1.8 million members, who call themselves internet aesthetes, and search the world wide web for artistic, meaningful, odd, and obscure photos. ‘Hmmm’ (technically written with a lowercase ‘h’) is the sound of deep thinking as you contemplate the weirdness of out-of-context internet pics. And we’ve collected some of the most bizarre ones to share with you, Pandas.
They’re stranger than strange, some to the point of hilarity, and they’ll likely make you go ‘hmmm’ as you look at them, trying to guess the story behind the elaborate images. It’s time to put your imaginations into overdrive, so get ready to have a good laugh and put your minds to use.
Bored Panda reached out to the team behind the r/hmmm subreddit. The head moderator, CosmicKeys, was happy to shed some light on the community and what it stands for. "The idea for /r/hmmm was to create a highly curated subreddit with a quality bar where all the pictures are interesting, meaningful, aesthetic, and shine a light on how random image culture on the internet had become its own genre of art. I think we are popular because we maintain this quality bar," they told me that high quality and a focus on aesthetics are both vital to the long-term success of the subreddit.
They also revealed the reason why each and every photo on the subreddit has the title 'hmmm.' "The titles are all 'hmmm' because it means you can experience the image without someone forcing their personal interpretation onto it in the form of a title. Whether it's funny or sad is up to you to determine. It is also about purity. In order for your post to go through, you need to submit to a rigid tradition. People willing to do that generally care enough to post excellent content."
As you scroll down, remember to upvote the pics that you liked the most. Got any wacky theories about what’s going on in each one? Share your thoughts about them in the comments. If you’re in the mood for some more photos that will raise the bar for what you find peculiar, then you’ll definitely want to check out Bored Panda’s previous articles about the r/hmmm community right over here and here.
The head moderator, CosmicKeys, revealed that even though the r/hmmm subreddit was technically created in 2008, we should consider its real founding date to be 2016. "/r/hmmm was founded in 2016 by users from snoonet irc. It was technically created in 2008, but had no activity up until that point, so 2016 is the real creation date," they told Bored Panda.
CosmicKeys said that they'd add new content to the subreddit every day. "I would post daily pictures while chat was going for people to laugh at oddities from different corners of the internet. That grew into a large collection, so /r/hmmm was born. The name comes from a thread that would appear occasionally on 4chan, and the content was inspired by a website called spaceghetto," they shared the inspiration for the subreddit as a whole.
According to the moderator, some images tend to be excluded if the idea behind them becomes far too popular. Face swaps are a good example of this. "The subreddit is about obscure and strange images, so over time as certain types of images have gone from obscure to popular we've made rules to exclude them," CosmicKeys shared.
British comedy expert and comedy writer Ariane, from London, told Bored Panda that, generally speaking, the more bizarre something is, the more we’re likely to chuckle, giggle, and laugh about it.
“The weirder and more surprising the photo, the more likely it is to make us laugh,” she said that the weirdness catches us unaware and we instinctively end up laughing.
“I tend to laugh the most at animals pulling human expressions while doing crazy things!” she opened up.
I spoke to Ariane about the role that context plays in comedy. In her opinion, humor is instantaneous. Context only becomes vital when there’s such a stunning lack of it that it starts to infringe on our ability to get the joke. If the audience doesn’t find the photo or situation relatable at all, they might end up asking for more information to get the joke. And that can harm the comedic effect.
“Context is important only if we’re unlikely to get a joke otherwise, as I think the sooner we get a joke, the funnier we find it,” Ariane told Bored Panda. “If it takes us a while then that initial shock and surprise is delayed and so we’re less likely to laugh and more likely to go ‘oh, I get it now!’”
In short, this means that even though the photos from r/hmmm quite obviously lack context, they also seem to have enough of it available to make us laugh. We can relate to the photos on some level. Well, at least to most of them.
I was also curious about Ariane’s opinion on whether we’re born with comedic talent or if it’s a skill like any other. To be developed, nourished, and honed. In her view, it’s both.
“Some people are born with funny bones, but those who aren’t so lucky could watch a lot of great standup comedy and try to emulate the timing and pace,” Ariane suggested how we can develop our sense of humor and comedic timing. “There are also some excellent comedy courses available online.”
According to Urban Dictionary, ‘hmmm’ is the sound made by those who are “in the act of thinking.” However, fellow internet users, note the number of m’s there. There are, in fact, 3. ‘Hmmm,’ therefore, “represents more thinking than hmm, but significantly less cranial activity than hmmmm.”
The subreddit, stresses the fact that all titles have to be ‘hmmm,’ all in lowercase. Yes, absolutely every post shared on the sub has the same title. It’s as bizarre a rule as many of the photos themselves. Do we love it? You betcha! This is the sort of quirky stuff that the internet was made for.
The moderators of r/hmmm also ask their members not to post any memes, mashups, or drawings. They might be funny and make us go r/hmmm, but the subreddit is for real-life situations only. Oh, and if you’ve got a gif instead of a photo to share, they’ve got their own separate subreddit for them called r/hmmmgifs right over here.
Know Your Meme explains that the r/hmmm subreddit “remained relatively dormant” until mid-February of 2017. A photo of a man with a pack of Pitbulls wearing sunglasses went viral and put the entire community on the map. And no wonder, the photo really does make you go ‘hmmm,’ as you wonder what the ever-loving heck is going on there. Ever since then, r/hmmm has been a thriving community. And we hope that’ll continue. In a world where information is readily available at our fingertips, it’s a real luxury to look at a photo and stand, confused, wondering what exactly is happening.