A Decade-Old Webcomic Is Trending on TikTok and Being Reinterpreted Constantly

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Feb. 24 2022, Published 11:06 a.m. ET

TikTok Logo
Source: Getty Images

One of the chief benefits of TikTok is that, like the internet itself, it has corners that work for a wide variety of different interests. That also means that TikTok can become obsessed with things that may seem fairly random, and that appears to be what's happened with an old webcomic that has gained new life on the platform. Now, many want to know what "Loss" is and why TikTok users are referencing it.

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What does loss mean on TikTok?

References to loss on TikTok appear to be focused on a webcomic of the same name that was first released in 2008. "Loss" was just one edition of the webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del, and the comic features the female lead suffering a miscarriage. It was a dramatic tonal shift for the generally light series, and one that many people felt was clumsy. As a result, it's been pretty mercilessly mocked online.

Loss
Source: Ctrl-Alt-Del
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As parodying "Loss" has become more commonplace, it's also been simplified into a series of lines: "| || || |_." These lines are meant to represent the images in the comic, which starts with a single figure, then shows two pairs of figures standing, and then ends with one figure standing over another in bed. The comics final panel was the subject of widespread mockery at the time.

'Loss' is now a meme on TikTok.

Because memes about the strip have been around for so long, they've undergone an evolution and almost become a language entirely their own. Various minimalistic approaches have become common online, from transforming the panel into characters from other languages or creating versions of the four panel comic that feature figures from popular movies or TV shows.

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In this case, TikTok isn't inventing a new meme so much as it is repurposing an old one. "Loss" was widely recognizable on the internet in certain circles long before TikTok, but TikTok may be introducing the meme to a new generation of people.

Over the years, the meme has gone through waves of popularity, which is why there are so many explainer articles about it across the internet already.

Source: TikTok
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As was the case on other platforms, people are using the "Loss" meme primarily to make fun of the comic, and of its blundering attempt to tackle a pretty serious subject. There is plenty of great art on the subject of loss and grieving, but unfortunately, the internet pretty much universally agrees that "Loss" is not one of those pieces of art.

Does it really deserve the more-than decade of mockery that it's already received? Probably not, but the internet loves a good punching bag, and "Loss" proved to be exactly that. It may never fully go away, but things come and go pretty quickly on TikTok.

"Loss" may be an enduring meme, but its lifespan on TikTok may wind up being relatively brief. After all, there's plenty of other things to make fun of that TikTok and its users could turn their attention to soon.

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