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When we talk about the age of photography, the focus tends to be topics such as history, powerful emotions, and the ability to document real events. But not every image that has been taken carries with it some higher meaning. Indeed, some seem to exist just to perplex us.

The “I Would Prefer Not To” Instagram page gathers strange, bizarre but somehow still relatable images from all over the internet. So strap in, get comfortable, and prepare to be a bit confused as you scroll through. Upvote your favorite pictures and be sure to share your comments below. 

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“I Would Prefer Not To” posts content that proves just how versatile memes can be. Humans have an incredible ability to take nearly any image and add a caption, magically turning it into both a hilarious meme and something relatable at the same time. 

The original internet memes were not too far off from this concept. Normally, there would be an image with a caption, often in a very recognizable impact font. Other times, the image would be contained within a black frame, the famed “demotivational” poster memes that were all the rage a few decades before. While the content has drastically changed, the basic idea hasn’t. 

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Since then, all sorts of other methods have been added to make memes more unique from the simple text+caption format of the past. Some of you might remember the period of time when every meme was put through multiple filters, from saturated colors to aggressive, unnecessary compression, all in the name of achieving a “deep-fried meme.” 

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At some point, netizens started to understand that just the format of a meme was enough to convey an image, which is why many memes veered into the absurd. From nonsensical text to no text, edited images, and compression effects, for a while, being confusing was the name of the game. 

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Painted Dog
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Because climate change is definitely not from their massive oil spills and transnational corporations, it's from us not turning the tap off when we brush our teeth. (to be fair, it does help the climate you do, but my point is they make it seem like it's all our fault and we are responsible for everything, please don't downvote)

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𝓚𝓮𝓲𝓽𝓱
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3 months ago (edited) DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

There are some heavy insinuations here… Edit: Forgive me pandas but it may have only been me who thought it was inferring t the frogs we’re an option to… escape the despair

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Elizabeth Bruenig from the Washington Post wrote that this era of memes was a “digital update to the surreal and absurd genres of art and literature that characterized the tumultuous early 20th century." While this style certainly still exists, modern sensibilities are a bit less avant-garde, as most memes are still somewhat comprehensible. 

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Katie Lutesinger
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

My mother said "you look like a slapper with all those tattoos!" I said "is that the name for someone who's about to slap someone?"

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Instead, like so many human subcultures, meme creation has “spread out” as every interest group, fandom and general combination of humans now produce memes for “internal use.” The ease with which most of us consume memes underpins just how convenient and effective they are at communicating ideas, jokes, and other info. 

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Katie Lutesinger
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I found a mysterious and bizarre fruit at the supermarket once and nobody working there had the faintest idea of what it was or how much I should be paying for it so they eventually just went "okay, how does two bucks sound and we'll tell the system it was a bag of apples?" (Turns out it was a Buddha Hand!)

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Sergio Bicerra
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I can hear my dad shouting WE DON'T NEED A NEW ONE, IT STILL WORKS!

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And it's not just humor that is being conveyed in memes. While many of these memes might be relatable, political forces and even marketing teams have all been hard at work, doing their best to make this relatability translate into boosted sales or more popularity in an upcoming election. Even now, find a local politician who is active on social media, you are bound to find at least a few memes. 

A famous, although involuntary, example of this is the “Dean scream,” when Vermont governor Howard Dean shouted “Yeah!” in a manner so comical, that some attribute media coverage and memes about the event to his eventual electoral defeat. These days, a good PR team will do its best to control the narrative and not allow memes like this to propagate. 

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Painted Dog
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

A lot of these were on a post a few days ago, and are just repeated. Is BP running out of content?

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Painted Dog
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When your kid repeats your own words in public and you have a mini panic attack because..

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Fortunately, most politicians still haven’t cracked the code, in the sense that true, effective memes come from the heart and can’t just be bought. Case in point, Michael Bloomberg 2020 US presidential candidate, whose team sponsored thousands of Instagram accounts to post about his candidacy. The attempt failed miserably.  

The fact is, memes are, at their heart, relatable, at least to a specific group. A truly viral meme transcends this initial group and spreads across the entire net. So as simple as these memes might seem, always remember that a billionaire couldn’t spend all the money in the world to make something appealing. 

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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

"if you can't handle me at my worst, then we have something in common"

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So enjoy this perusal of the best the internet has to offer, from weirdness to good old relatable content. And if you still feel like you need more, check out Bored Panda’s other article on some of the best memes from the “I Would Prefer Not To” Instagram page. 

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Samantha
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I feel sure that would be often requested if it were possible for Alexa to do that.

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Painted Dog
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Remembering the day me and my dad had to wake up early to catch the spirit of Tasmania back to the mainland and I put greenday's "Revolution radio" as the alarm, thinking it would be hilarious to wake him up to, only it woke us both up and man, my teenage self has never has never been filled with as much regret.

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Black Cat
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Technically that pizza hasn't touched the floor sooo probably still good?

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Painted Dog
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3 months ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

They haven't left mushroom between them, they must love each other so mush.

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Note: this post originally had 96 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.