Some statements, though brief, are powerful enough to stay with you forever: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” “Not all who wander are lost,” and, of course, “I’m baby.”
All around the world, people are coming together to raise their voices in unison and proclaim those two simple, profound words:
If you’re wondering why everyone’s suddenly baby, let’s unpack this meme together.
Where did “I’m baby” start?
According to Know Your Meme, ABC News ran a story back in March 2017 about a teen texting her mother during a home invasion. The mother’s autocorrect altered her reply so that it read, “I’m baby. Call 911.” A screenshot of that moment spread on Tumblr and Instagram before making its way to Twitter in early 2019.
What are some times when you can say, “I’m baby”?
“I’m baby” is appropriate in nearly every scenario you might encounter. My colleague Madeleine Aggeler tells me she specifically loves using it when talking to her dog. “I ask her if she’s baby, and then she answers (through me), ‘I’m baby,’” she told me. “And it’s true. She’s baby.”
It’s also great for job interviews:
May you shout “I’m baby” from the tallest of rooftops, and whisper “I’m baby” to yourself as you fall asleep each night.
Why is “I’m baby” so good?
It has taken off because it has the hallmarks of many good memes: It’s digestible, absurdist, and applicable in a swath of different situations. The inaccurate grammar just makes it a deeply funny stand-alone statement. “I’m baby” also taps into the current fatalistic mood: When everything in the world seems deeply doomed, it’s comforting to just curl up and be, well, baby.
“It’s a way for us to express a feeling of general helplessness and uselessness in a ‘funny/cute’ way,” my friend Marian Bull, who is indisputably baby, told me. “I think you can sort of use it to express neediness without actually feeling like you’re asking for something; it can also be an excuse tacked onto a text that’s admitting some sort of fault or misstep — anything can be written off with ‘I’m baby.’”
My colleague Daise Bedolla, who also identifies as baby, touched on these feelings of helplessness as well. “When I was on vacation last month, I found myself yelling, ‘I’m baby,’ at least 15 times a day. Jet-lagged after a cross-country flight that sat on the tarmac for two hours for deicing? I’m baby. Go out while jet-lagged instead of staying in the hotel and sleeping? Sorry, I’m baby,” she told me. “I found that it very succinctly communicated how helpless I felt without having to explain why. It’s the perfect response when you simply can’t be bothered, and it comes in handy when you’re invited to an event you can’t will yourself into going to. Sorry, I can’t go. I’m baby.”
Writer Aiden Arata took the thinking to a further level on her meme Instagram: “Being baby is a radical response to a culture in which older generations have infantilized us without nurturing us, a rejection of capitalist productivity standards, a joyful reclamation of tenderness, a revolution.” Damn.
What does “I’m baby” have to do with Aries season?
“I’m baby” has been linked to Aries season, which started on March 20, since the meme began to take off around the same time.
“Aries always gets called the baby of the zodiac because it’s the first sign of the zodiac year. This is meant mostly in a new-beginnings sense, but it’s also a reference to Aries being straightforwardly, uncomplicatedly ruled by animal instincts and physical drives — like a baby!” Claire Comstock-Gay (a.k.a. our resident astrologer, Madame Clairevoyant) explained. “In my experience, Aries can sometimes feel a little insulted by the idea that other people see them as baby, even if they think it about themselves.”
She added, “It’s cute and delightful to me that it’s Aries season and suddenly everyone is baby.”
In conclusion, who’s baby?
I’m baby. You’re baby. We are all baby.
Any final thoughts?