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Old 10-18-2019, 12:23 PM
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I want to address the term “sealioning” and whether it is “real” or “manufactured”. As was pointed out earlier, the term came from a meme derived from a comic strip, the strip in question can be seen here:
Wondermark by David Malki

The context of that comic was that it was created in the midst of the “GamerGate” controversy in 2014. Without getting into too many details as to what GamerGate involved (Google it if you are curious and unfamiliar), a tactic that was alleged in online debates on the topic was a form of harassment that involved frequent and unceasingly repeated demands from one person to another to provide evidence and answer questions. In the midst of this the harasser declares repeatedly that they are only trying to make sure the facts are clarified and when the target inevitably becomes hostile, the harasser claims that they have been polite and accuse the victim of rudeness.

The term “sealioning” was borrowed from that strip, as the behavior displayed by the sealion in the comic was identical to what was being observed in those online discussions. So it has been a term popularized over the past five years, and while clearly a neologism it seems to be an accepted part of internet slang.

When questioning the legitimacy of the term, recall that the term “spam” was a reference to a Monty Python sketch where the word “spam” was repeated over and over in a British diner. It too was a meme that came about as a way to describe observed online behavior. Even “trolling” is itself originally an online meme, though one of a less-certain etymology. These terms which were as “manufactured” as sealioning have become accepted enough to appear in reputable English dictionaries (Oxford, Merriam-Webster, etc.).