Nonbinary Names Be Like "Sock" refers to a cliché about nonbinary people (they/them pronouns) who change their names to "Sock" or "River" among other strange, object-related nouns. Although the cliché can be traced back to a 2013 cartoon, it didn't become prevalent in memes until 2019 on TikTok. From there, it spread to both Twitter and Instagram, mainly staying within LGBTQ+ meme circles.
On October 14th, 2019, Twitter user hansehour posted a tweet that read, "nonbinary peoeple names bw like. sock." The tweet (shown below) received five likes over the course of two years. However, in the replies to the tweet, she states that the tweet was inspired by an unknown TikTok.
Although the above tweet is the first instance of the joke online, many point to the 2013 cartoon Welcome to Hell as the source of the cliché. This is because one of the characters in the show is named "Sock" and many fans associate them with being nonbinary or at least representing the identity in a thematic sense. Evidence of this was mentioned in a thread posted by Twitter user EricaWester on July 3rd, 2021 (shown below). Its first tweet received 93 likes over the course of five months.
The concept spread slowly on Twitter going into 2020. For instance, Twitter user jeffrosencock posted a tweet that added more "nb" names to the lore like, "Moss, River, Socks, Wolf, n Rocket," earning 87 likes over two years (shown below, left). A few months later, on December 11th, 2020, the Instagram page transgeners posted a now-deleted Facebook post that also added new names to the lore, earning 62 likes in one year (shown below, right).
Also in 2020, the meme became more prevalent on TikTok. The earliest video on the platform was posted by TikToker smudgerize on July 9th, 2020. It made a joke about a nonbinary person named "Chair" and it received roughly 9,600 plays and 1,400 likes over the course of two years (shown below, left). On October 8th, TikToker maxpeel4 followed up on the concept, posting a video that gained roughly 9,000 plays and 1,500 likes, also over two years (shown below, right).
The concept became more well-known in early 2021. As evidence of this, Twitter user gothjafar posted a tweet about trying on wigs, stating, "idk how to act all of a sudden i’m a nonbinary b*tch named sock." The tweet (shown below, left) received roughly 1,800 likes over the course of nine months. Additionally, TikToker maxpeel4 posted a follow-up video on February 6th, receiving roughly 25,700 plays and 5,000 likes over the course of 10 months (shown below, right).
On September 22nd, 2021, Instagram page this.and.a.blunt posted a meme that used the Having Roommates In X Be Like meme format, replacing words in it to read, "Having roommates in bushwick be like: / Sock wants to know since they did nothing can they get a bump." The meme (shown below) received roughly 3,700 likes over the course of three months.
On September 23rd, Instagram page loverproblemw posted a meme that replaced words in the template to read "ridgewood" and "stand-up," earning over 270 likes in the same amount of time (shown below, left). The next day, Instagram page the_cable_guy_ posted another iteration, receiving roughly 6,400 likes (shown below, right).
The concept bounced around more on Twitter going into the rest of 2021 and into 2022. For instance, on December 25th, 2021, Twitter user PandoraEternaI posted a tweet that received roughly 123,000 likes over the course of three weeks (shown below).
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