TikTokers using a 'Gangnam Style' meme to share their traumatic experiences say the humor helps them cope

TikTokers using a 'Gangnam Style' meme to share their traumatic experiences say the humor helps them cope
"Gangnam Style" TikTok meme formatTikTok, Florence Biehn, reallycoolgirl29
  • A popular TikTok meme uses a remix of the 2013 song "Gangnam Style" to share traumatic experiences.
  • The audio has been used in over 345,000 videos about tragic events like the death of a loved one.

A TikTok video uploaded in February by Ashley Eisenbraun, who goes by @reallycoolgirl29, shows on-screen text that reads, "Dad gets Covid but he's healthy and not too old so he'll be fine!" Suddenly an image of a funeral casket multiplies and fills the screen. Eisenbraun confirmed to Insider that the TikTok referred to the death of her father.

Her short video, which has accrued 15.1 million views, is overlaid with a remix of the 2013 hit song "Gangnam Style" by PSY.

@reallycoolgirl29 This is how I cope #fyp #dad ♬ original sound - kooze

The audio was first uploaded in October 2021 by a TikTok user known as Koose whose content features a number of remixes of popular songs.

It has since been used in over 345,000 videos, many of which follow a similar format as Eisenbraun's: they open by providing context about a situation from the past which seems like it would have a positive or neutral outcome. They then use a visual effect that shows an image spinning around and filling the screen, typically representing a traumatic or tragic event that took place shortly after the original scene described, such as the death of a loved one, an unexpected medical diagnosis, or a difficult family situation.

Florence Biehn, who goes by @flossstupidtiktoks on TikTok, posted a video that detailed the unexpected death of her stepfather while he sat next to her on a couch. She said she used the "Gangnam Style" format because she uses humor to cope.


"Talking about things like my stepdad's death is a big step for my mental health, because I struggle with internalizing," she said. "Making people laugh is a big motivator."

@flosstupidtiktoks a great start in the day #trauma #trending #imagespin #imagespineffect #stepdad ♬ original sound - kooze

She thinks the format has become a trend among TikTok users because it allows them to share things that are typically presented as serious in a comedic way that works on the app, and to find others with similar experiences.

Lee Chambers, a psychologist based in the UK, agreed that the trend can create a space for people to feel comfortable sharing their emotions.

He explained that our society often considers it "inappropriate" to take a less-than-serious approach to tragic events, but said that for some, "this very act can provide a coping mechanism, helping them to process elements of their own traumatic experiences."

Lyndsay Carreño participated in the trend with a video about the death of her father in a 2016 plane crash.

@lyndscarreno Yallll I absolutely had to with this trend #LinkBudsNeverOff #SephoraLipLooks #imagespin #deaddadclub ♬ original sound - kooze

Carreño told Insider she uses humor to deal with trauma when she's around her friends, but added that it's hard to tell as viewer whether it's a healthy mechanism.

"Sometimes laughing it off is the best thing you can do," she said of her own experience. "It's hard to say for others if it's a good or bad thing because I'm not sure where they are in their journey."

For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider's Digital Culture team here.