Submitted on social media by Cadence Oliver, her dad was squatting strong since 2001!
As this is a serious deconstruction based on a rather silly topic, i’ll be trying my best to keep an anthropological perspective on things while satisfying all the relevant(less serious) curiosities.
One of the biggest questions in my community was always the exact origin of this oddly fascinating behaviour. As i saw the culture expand so quickly, i too became intrigued by the strange and candid habit that seemed to feed on nothing but itself, thus this article will be comprised of two parts , what made it tick and what makes it click for people
What made it tick
There are dozens of theories out there for why squatting exists and is so popular among Slavs, ranging from the medical benefits of defecating in said stance to simply being a superior, healthier way of sitting. However most squatting slavs are neither orthopedic geniuses nor particularly interested in a healthy bowel movement.
First of all, squatting is VERY OLD, and as most great things in life it has a very real and practical beginning, some would say sad or even tragic. It all begins during the Tsar era of pre-revolutionary Russia where convicts (or gopniki, as they were called) were escorted by guards to their assigned destination. They weren’t easy times back then, resources were scarce for most, people were cold and angry and nobody fancied taking any unnecessary risks, they were organising the convicts in formations and made them squat-walk to where they needed to go. This strategy allowed the guards to have a much better view of everyone and any possible intentions of escape or sudden violence. In a way it also showed the would be inmates a minimal grade of human respect, as they didn’t have to lay directly on the cold ground and get dirty anymore.
Once they went through the iron and concrete gates, resources were equally scarcer on the inside, and with a guard population mindset that was likely something along the lines of “Those are people who did something bad and are paying for it, why should we show any kindness to them, we have a wife and child to support” you could imagine it wasn’t exactly a party. The cells were often overcrowded, inmates who wished to sit had a hard time doing so normally, so they just looked for a sufficient space to squat and relax. Entertainment was rare and people were lacking morale, so the only activities they really engaged in were conversations, fights & consuming smuggled goods, those were the social factors that likely added the popular accessories associated with squatting nowadays like cigaretts, strong booze, sunflower seeds and cold weapons. It quickly became embedded into the prison population and slowly broke to national mainstream, as prisoners went in an out,they started making choices in the free world which influenced reality. Some old convicts say they can tell if someone went to prison by the way they squat
Leaping a few years into the future, we find ourselves in the brink of post-communist Russia, by then, squatting has taken it’s sweet ass time to adapt into a social meme without any proper identity (usually an irresistible notion to masses, e.g: remember air guitar or planking lol), even so it was no way near it’s critical mass, not yet.
Being a teenager during the soviet post-communism appropriation didn’t exactly come with a vast set of perks nor opportunities (unless you were in the well educated intellectual class) everything was being repaired or being healed, things had to be rationalized in a democratic way now :^). Most families lived in block type complexes which had inner parks in-between them , usually the local kids would meet up there and engage in various role playing games, as there were no video games, variety of TV channels or many toys per underage capita. When they got tired they squatted down, public sitting spaces were’t very popular, so the improvisation began. Also, this is when the Tracksuit part fully got on board, as most teenagers owned one and it was the most popular choice of attire for non-formal activities.
Another important element were classroom photos, as classes were comprised of large numbers and height variations were severe, a simple solution where the boys would sit in a line squatting in front of the girls was added.
*It’s important to note that some restrooms(especially public/school ones) in Russia were and still are designed to be used while squatting, so this may have also played a vague practical role for embracing the true way of the slav.
What makes it click
Over time the behaviour slowly evolved into a phenomena, but it remained restricted to Eastern European countries, people were seeing others do it, so it became the generally cool thing to do. Taking pictures in interesting or challenging squatting scenarios became the norm for most teenagers and young adults, it was fun and had endless creative applications, so the regional meme evolved like wildfire. The playground was set for a greater scene, but the tools for propagation weren’t there yet, not until the internet became mainstream that is.
When it did, it was a sealed deal, the meme became huge in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, being posted on most forums and data sharing services at the time as a confusing response to anything, but with still no identity it was regarded as autistic humour. Although it became apparent it was its own engine and that was the beauty of it.
Then it died, its critical mass still wasn’t there yet, it lost popularity and people gravitated towards more generic entertainment while a small portion still used and knew the meme.
After a few years people began experimenting with different definitions of quality, and many auxiliary genres of humour were defined and started forming distinct groups. Prime examples of such groups are the middle generations of the 4chan imageboard and the counter-strike gaming community (it made cyka-blyat popular), which played a huge role in making it catch on (possibly due to the fact that for some strange reason most users of 4chan are instinctively talented at viral marketing and “pushing” the concepts they see fit)
Right now the meme is at it’s peak and finally reached it’s true critical mass, due to the nature of internet cultures people are starting to imitate the meme more than consume it, which is the textbook behaviour of either long lasting amazingness or horrible degeneration of everything.
Only time will tell where this will be in 1 year from now, but right now things are looking very promising.