If you've spent a considerable amount of time doom-scrolling through social media, then you've probably come across more than a few people who've used the term "for the plot" to justify why they were performing a particular action, making a certain decision, or why they were willing to stick around and see how a particular series of events was about unfold.
But what's the meaning behind this phrase?
What does "for the plot" mean on TikTok?
It's basically just an alternate way of TikTokers contextualizing their own character development — they're commenting on their own lives as if they were narrating a plot synopsis, film review, or book report on their own existences, and they're the protagonist.
Sometimes, doing things "for the plot" could mean that individuals put themselves in risky but interesting scenarios in the hopes of experiencing a phenomenon that's going to broaden their horizons in a way that just thinking or talking about something never could.
According to Know Your Meme, this phrase could also be used by folks who are describing doing something without a care for what the end result is going to be — the entire reason why they're doing something is solely to enjoy the journey of doing it and not necessarily caring about what happens in the end.
Where and when did "for the plot" originate?
Know Your Meme writes that the earliest example of this being used in a social media/meme/viral context was coined by TikTok user Serena Kerrigan, who goes by SFK, in July of 2021.
An example of her using this terminology in one of her videos from June 6, 2022, where she lip-syncs a chipmunk-voice-esque track into the camera where she puts a purse on her arm.
She writes in a text overlay: "here's your reminder to stop about caring about what people think bc they aren't thinking about you. time is the most valuable currency that we will never get back so spend it wisely. we're all gonna die anyway so ... do it for the plot"
Serena adds in a caption for the video that doing things "for the plot" was basically an alternate way of saying "YOLO" (you only live once) and encouraged others to do the same in the clip.
One user who responded to Serena's advice wrote in the comments section of the clip that she was going to heed the woman's advice: "I have spent way too long both socially and professionally going over conversations in my head analyzing them. Such a waste! Thanks for this."
There are some people who've posted videos stating that the alternate mindset associated with "doing it for the plot" is a compelling enough argument to get them to agree to specific plans they would've otherwise ignored, like this TikTok user named Nevin (@nevinmckinnon) who acts out a skit rejecting the idea of doing something because "it'll be fun," but immediately changing his mind the second someone mentions that they should "do it for the plot."