‘We Are So Back’ Is an Internet Meme for Our Time

Like most popular memes, “we’re so back” is flexible and capacious. There is almost no scenario in which one cannot be either “over” or “back.” And part of the humor derives from just how quickly something can be over after it is back, as well as from the exaggerated feelings that may accompany each state of being. (Also, the phrase is fun to say. Seriously, try it. We are soooooo back.)

Tom Haynes, a journalist in London, often finds himself saying it while playing with his hockey team. “It’s like you’re describing every minor success, however arbitrary, as the comeback of the century,” Mr. Haynes, 28, wrote in a direct message on X.

Max Read, a writer in Brooklyn, said he thought of the meme in more economical terms. He compared the sharp and quick swings of being “back” and then “over” to the fluctuations of the stock market.

“You look at all the economic sentiment readings, and by most measurements the economy is booming, but nobody seems to think it is,” said Mr. Read, 38, who wrote about the phrase in a newsletter last summer. “I think everyone’s a little bit nervous that something’s going to turn on a dime.”

A sense of yearning for the recent past is also inherent in being “back.” When Ms. Del Rey performed at Coachella in 2014, it might not have been a moment that anyone at the time thought they’d be longing to live again. A decade later, hindsight casts this era in a tantalizing glow of pseudo-innocence.

“Nostalgia is one of the defining cultural ideas on social media,” said Jessica Maddox, an assistant professor of digital media at the University of Alabama. “Things that are rebooted, reworked or come back up again. This is a phrase that encapsulates that.”

This sense of nostalgia isn’t only limited to memories of better times, Dr. Maddox added, but also can apply to most anything a person has already experienced. “Even if it’s chaotic and bad or ridiculous,” she said, “well, at least it’s familiar.”

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