Tag Archives: Internet

Herobrine (Minecraft Legend)

Original Text:

Informant: “In Minecraft, basically…well, Notch created Minecraft. And when he created Minecraft, there was this big thing that there was like a bug in the game and it created Herobrine, who was like an evil default avatar with white eyes. Herobrine would go into peoples Minecraft servers and kill them in Minecraft, and burn their buildings, and put lava everywhere. So then everyone was like have you seen Herobrine in your game? And people would lie and say ‘yeah Herobrine was in my game’, but it wasn’t possible for Herobrine to be in the pocket edition of Minecraft. Pocket edition is just Minecraft on your phone. It was only possible on the computer” [

Collector: Is it real?

Informant: “Probably not real, but…I was playing on pocket edition with my brother one time, we were just hanging out, and then I joined a new world and I randomly just get killed and I was like OMG ITS HEROBRINE! Herobine killed me! Im pretty sure I just accidentally walked back into lava and then burned alive but yeah. We all would tell our Herobrine stories. My brother and his friends said that they actually had a Herobrine war, like they were fighting him, I don’t think it was real, but yeah.”

Context: The informant in 18 years old and grew up in Orinda, California. He says that he was an avid player of Minecraft from 5th to 6th grade and it was cool to be really good at the game among his peers. His brother’s friends were especially good at the game, and he wanted to be able to play with them. The informant watched a lot of YouTube videos about Herobrine that further cemented his belief in the legend.

Analysis: The legend of Herobrine is obviously terminus post quem the invention of Minecraft (2011). The same way children tell ghost stories because they are unfamiliar with the concept of death, children like the informant and his friends would tell stories about Herobrine, who was a white-eyed scary version of the default Minecraft avatar. Just because there is a new digital age, doesn’t mean the typical types of legends from the past don’t resurface online. Little boys like the informant would naturally be intrigued by a scary, other-worldy version of their avatar with the desire to haunt and kill them. To add on, the invention of the internet and games is still very new, and people often make up stories like Herobrine to deal with the unknown factor they find eerie about the internet — like it perhaps having a mind of its own.


“So like as you know there are like a million ways to call someone a dumbass on the internet. One way I like to is the phrase, ‘you are second in numbers and in letters’ which is Two-B. 

Chinese: 屄

Phonetic: bī

Transliteration: c*nt

Translation: ass, general expletive

has a negative meaning already, but it also sounds, like, phonetically stupid I guess. Then people started adding the word stupid in front of that. But, then, I think it’s because of internet censorship, which doesn’t allow people to insult each other explicitly. So people started saying two-bī to insult each other. And, I think, it might be just a historical reference that two has a negative meaning or it has an insult towards someone’s intelligence level but I think that’s how it comes as the word two-bī and now it frequently used by a lot of people.” 


Informant (ZZ) is a student aged 19 from Shanghai, China. He attended high school in the U.S. and currently goes to USC. This piece was collected during an interview over dinner in the dining hall. He learned the saying from friends and the internet. He believes, “it express the great intellectual ability of the Chinese people that we use our language so well that we can insult people with anything that we want.”


Beyond the interpretation offered by ZZ, this story also demonstrates the growing influence of English in China. The insult phrase requires knowledge of the Roman alphabet in order to work. Additionally, it demonstrates a desire to resist internet censorship by the Chinese Government. The government can’t censor everything, and this insult, like the grass mud horse mentioned elsewhere, demonstrates a desire by Chinese netizens to circumvent censorship.

Grass Mud Horse


“The grass mud horse I think first emerged in like a videogame. They play it very smart. They use words that sound very–like they use the word grass mud horse in Chinese, which is a normal name for like a llama, but it shares the same pronunciation as like f*ck your mom in Chinese so it was kind of in–it was kind of like cursing but kind of not directly kind of way. So if you say it:

Chinese: 草泥马
Phonetic: Cǎonímǎ
Transliteration: grass mud horse
Translation: llama

grass mud horse in Chinese it basically means

Chinese: 操你妈
Phonetic: cào nǐ mā
Transliteration: f*ck you mother
Translation: f*ck your mom

or f*ck your mom.”


Informant (ZZ) is a student aged 19 from Shanghai, China. He attended high school in the U.S. and currently goes to USC. This piece was collected during an interview over dinner in the dining hall. He first learned this from a videogame, where a llama was a character, and he has also seen it online. To him, it “represents the great creativity in the Chinese language.”


In addition to the sentiments expressed by (ZZ), this insult/joke also demonstrates a desire to circumvent government censorship. Much like 2B, the Chinese netizens seek to create new folklore as a result of Chinese internet censorship.


Description: A youtube channel that shows videos of someone playing with a woman’s eyes while they sleep, the video shows only the hand so the person behind the videos is unknown.

Background: The informant learned about this from Reddit.


BD: It’s gross and extremely creepy but to me extremely fascinating because it was on YouTube of all things. But basically there was a channel called mrsleepypeople (something along those lines) that was uploading videos where there’s a man playing with a woman’s eyes while they’re asleep. The channel creator was probably the person filming bc it was always shot from like a first person pov so you never saw him, only his hands. Er scratch that usually only his hands. But anyways yeah basically he would open their eyes and what not but they’d clearly be knocked out bc their eyes weren’t reacting to light or anything (also it’d always be dark in the room minus the camera light so there’s also that). I think the first video he uploaded was actually a couple sleeping together too? He was only messing with the girls eyes but was uh ballsy enough to do this despite her boyfriend/SO being right there. And the videos got progressively worse, with the notable escalation being where he uh… licks one of the girls eyeballs

And this was on YouTube for a few years. And apparently there’s a community around it that was also around

Me: Were there any theories on what was actually happening?

BD: Basically that it was very likely a fetish thing. Because of the type of comments it’d get. But then when either people or YouTube got wind of it finally, most channels got removed or deleted by the owners. But yeah essentially there seems to be a fetish community around sleeping women’s eyes, but as you may have already guessed it a) absolutely did not seem consensual and b) some of the other channels that were found to be within the community posted children and infants….

Me: Did we ever know who the person is?

BD: Nope, which is probably the worst part.

My thoughts:

While my informant has not confirmed the existence of the channel, I believe this to be true. The case reminds me of Jack the Ripper in many ways. Mainly the creep factor and the fact that the perpetrator is never identified nor caught. I think this walks the line for what can be considered folklore. It is a very real thing but I think the knowledge lies outside of public or institutional knowledge. So I think this gives off a feel of an urban legend in the sense of how strange and unknown it is.

Gamer Folk Speech


My informant, AW, is my 15-year-old brother. He is heavily involved in multiple online gaming communities that exist on Discord and other social platforms and revolve around multiplayer online games such as Valorant and Overwatch. This piece was collected during an informal interview at home when I asked him to share something unique to the gaming community. I refer to myself at SW in the text.


Main Text:

AW: “Whenever someone is doing really or someone just made a crazy play or an insane play or something like that, um, people would say like you’re popping off or you’re cracked or… um I mean this ones fairly normal but you’re insane or something like that. And people have taken that super far… instead of saying you’re insane people will literally say like ‘you’re absolutely bonkers. You’re mentally unstable.’ Meaning that you did something insane and stuff like that. So yea there’s a lot of terminology like that, that every gamer will understand.”

SW: “Where do you learn it?”

AW: “Um… literally just from talking to people a lot of social cues, a lot of – how I guess you would learn language. It’s just… you don’t ever ask you just kinda know eventually.”

SW: “Why is it important?”

AW: “Cuz every gamer knows it and every gamer says it. It’s… a lot more acceptable to say ‘you’re insane’ or ‘you’re cracked’ than it is to say ‘wow that was a really good play, good rally. That was… that was a good effort. You, you played that very smart.’ Like no one ever says that you say ‘dude you’re insane you’re cracked.’ Or, or you simply just say ‘sheeeeesh.’”

SW: “Which means what?”

AW: “It can mean a lot of things. But in the gaming culture specifically, it’s just a surprised reaction or a… an admiration of something. Like if someone just did something insane you’d go ‘sheeeeeeesh bro.’ Or like… or if someone does something like, super sus, if you know what that means, that’s another word that – yea if someone does that you’d just go ‘sheeeeeesh bro. Sheeeesh.’ It really can be used for anything, it has so many meanings it’s just like, an exclamation. 



One of my favorite parts of the internet is how quickly folk speech spreads and how some sayings are universal while others only exist within a very specific group. I think the main purpose is to distinguish members of the group from outsiders. As AW mentioned, these phrases are picked up naturally as you spend more time in the community, so it becomes a way to tell how long someone has been in the community. In the gaming community, it’s probably especially important to form a group identity since most people have ever met each other face to face. Gaming folk speech seems to be largely focused on making things more hyperbolic, which might reflect the group culture of being more energetic and dramatic in both your manner of speech and your actions. This probably happens because you can’t rely on body language in these conversations, so you must come up with standardized ways to verbally express emotions of excitement or congratulations that might otherwise be expressed simply through a cheer or a high five.