Bitstrips Facebook Comics Annoying Already

Bitstrips makes annoying Comics on Facebook and Smartphones that are already as irritating as Farmville.

Bitstrips, an app for Facebook and smartphones that lets you create single-panel comics, has only recently exploded in popularity, but is already just as annoying as classically irritating apps such as Farmville, Candy Crush Saga, Vine, and Instagram, sources say.

In a market already choked with soul-numbingly annoying applications for social networks and mobile devices, such a rapid ascent into widespread frustration of others is considered remarkable.

Jacob Blackstock, chief executive and creative director for the Toronto-based Bitstrips, attempted to explain the app’s uncanny ability to irk and depress. “Right now we’re able to make a comic and the next day get to see 20,000 different versions of it online,” Mr. Blackstock told the Baltimore Sun. According to the same article/puff piece/advertisement, Blackstock’s insidious online irritant now has added 7.5 million users on Facebook since January.

This infection rate is even higher than that of even the world’s most deadly viruses, such as Ebola Zaire hemorrhagic fever. The app is available online via Facebook and also for Android and iPhone.

From being a relatively unknown app only a year ago, Bitstrips has grown at an amazing and nauseating speed. Users already vomit forth over 300,000 comics a day onto the Facebook feeds of otherwise happy loved ones and acquaintances, many of whom have no idea how annoying their online friends are until being traumatized by the app’s easy sharing functionality.

“This Facebook app lets anyone make their own one panel comic featuring themselves and a friend,” writes Comicvine blogger Mat Elfring, who inexplicably continues to use the app of his own volition. “I’m a terrible artist, but I have all these ideas for comics or weird moments in my life, which I feel that need to be expressed to the world.”

In an effort to render the products of the app even more cringe-worthy, the app itself encourages each user to create an avatar resembling his or her self, and then to use friends’ online likenesses as guest stars. That’s right: In case Facebook itself did not encourage enough indulgent self-absorption, users are now encouraged to make cartoons starring themselves. Coupled with the fact that most, if not all, users clearly have no talent for visual comedy whatsoever, nor any facility for comics as a medium, this raises Bitstrips up to a new level of exasperation most other apps can hardly match.

Even users of Facebook who do not use annoying applications are already thoroughly familiar with them thanks to the ignorant malfeasance of family and friends, but Bitstrips comics take this to a whole new level. The fact that the new app has so quickly become a daily source of vexation to so many people, who would rather have nothing to do with it, is almost unprecedented.

Regarding the already well-established plague of app requests and online harassment called Farmville, for example, We Out Here Magazine’s Shardé Marie wrote, “I still don’t understand the concept of the game. I’m still annoyed and haunted by the (Farmville) requests that blow up my Facebook notifications. I hate anybody who ever played it.”

Yet, even Ms. Marie was forced to acknowledge the predictable spread of this newer social network pest. “As soon as I saw a handful of my friends posting Bitstrips on Facebook I knew that two things were going to happen. 1) A bunch of people were going to get the app and flood my timeline with their own comics. And 2) people were going to bad-mouth the app and anyone who uses it,” she said. “And boy, did my predictions come true.”

It seems like only yesterday that members of digital networks were content to elicit friends’ eye rolling with the usual offenses. Most people were accustomed to pointlessly over-filtered Instagram pics of American Apparel victims, inexplicable food photography, unsolicited requests for tickets to unlock another Candy Crush episode, or Vine videos of the faces people made while watching episodes of a TV series you don’t watch.

But now, Bitstrips forces an experience onto social media which, previously, was mostly just a source of dread in person: The vicarious embarrassment of watching friends try to be funny and utterly fail.

Thanks to this app, such excruciatingly awkward moments—normally dealt with by trying to ignore it and move on with the conversation as quickly as possible—are now preserved permanently, with bright colors and fully customizable comic avatars.

“I was never good at drawing,” says 20-year-old Greg Klock of Bel Air, CA. “But Bitstrips allows non-artistic people like myself to dabble in something that we couldn’t before.”

Klock’s friend, 21-year-old Joel Huna, agreed; persisting in the troubling proposition that enabling constant artistic output from people who are admittedly talentless, is somehow a good thing. “It makes up for a lack of artistic ability,” Huna told the Baltimore Sun, guilelessly articulating everything horrific about the Bitstrips phenomenon in only a couple sentences. “There are so many situations — like fighting leprechauns for their pot of gold — and you can manipulate your avatar’s facial expressions and such that the possibilities are limitless.”

Even hardcore Bitstrips fans like Elfring are forced to confront the cognitive dissonance of gleefully posting comics while acknowledging the unwelcome insight into how depressingly not funny one’s friends are. Even in an online tutorial on the app’s use, the Comicvine writer felt compelled to state his complaints. “Some of your friends aren’t funny… After a few days, I found myself being used in quite a few terrible, dumb strips, most of which made no sense… You’re also going to have to deal with seeing other people’s Bitstrips that will just annoy the heck out of you.”

Yet having purposefully opted into the app, the blogger offered no thoughts for the rest of us, who would never willingly use Bitstrips, yet are forced to see the cartoons when the app’s sharing functionality posts them as regularly as pictures. Pummeling our Facebook feeds with humorless pabulum that is at best absurd and at worst offensive.

Instead, Elfring complains about the fact that the comics only allow one dialogue bubble per person, and that you can only use yourself and users you are friends with as characters, which is a bit like rearranging deckchairs on the Enola Gay.

America has a history of unfunny single panel comics going back decades. Family Circus, for example, is the most widely syndicated cartoon panel in the world, according to publisher King Features Syndicate, despite never having been funny since its debut in 1960.

Modern society still maintains a stubborn unwillingness to acknowledge that making an amusing comic is actually difficult, with similarly untalented persons trying their hand at the medium constantly, via a wide array of media. Bitstrips is only the latest manifestation of this seemingly willful state of denial, which has caused worldwide sales of compilations of the aforementioned Family Circus to sell over 13 million copies.

13 million copies of Family Circus books. Seriously.

Bitstrips, however, makes the mass production of disturbingly joyless comics available to everyone. Even only mildly annoying apps, such as Words with Friends, were only able to spread so far over so much time. Bitstrips, however, by sharing its humorless results as regular photos, victimized everyone long before it grew to corrupt so many users. This achievement is perhaps unequalled in the history of genuinely irritating apps.

According to We Out Here’s Marie, “The moral of this story is that people are sheep, apps are fun distractions, requests are annoying and talking about how annoying the app is even more annoying than the app itself. But, do what you like.”

In the end, the app is likely to fade like every other fad, but that temporary joy is eclipsed by the knowledge that some even more annoying app will soon take its place. For now, however, the astounding success of Bitstrips in already making its comics so cruelly annoying on Facebook and other networks is an unrivaled achievement.


Written By: Jeremy Forbing
Baltimore Sun
We Out Here Magazine

37 Responses to "Bitstrips Facebook Comics Annoying Already"

  1. Beth   December 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    It is like my Daddy said about the telephone, if you don’t like what you hear or in this case see hang up (block it and forget it)

  2. Mimi   November 12, 2013 at 11:46 am

    What a dumb article Sounds like a cranky old man wrote it. You didn’t have anything else to complain and write about did you? Fads come and go. If you hate these applications so much, block them or get off FB.

  3. negative people everywhere   November 6, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    wow people complain about everything you do know that facebook is a place for people to express themselves if you dont like it get off facebook

  4. Landon Garwood   November 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    If you’re commenting on this page in the first place, you can join the club, and realize that you obviously DON’T have more important things to worry about.

  5. martine   November 3, 2013 at 2:47 am

    Bitstrips appeal to the creative, fun-loving and mischievious. I find the current ‘backlash’ a bit disturbing. If using Bitstrips is hopping on a bandwagon, then so, it would seem, is knocking it. Baaaaaaaa!!

  6. Sue L   November 2, 2013 at 6:45 am

    You do realize that comics aren’t necessarily meant to be funny…..remember superman comics, the hulk, etc, etc. Just because something is a comic strip doesn’t mean it is a comedy strip. The word comic means funny but the term comic strip has come to mean more than just funny drawings/story.

  7. Lisa   November 1, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Hilarious article, and you articulated everything I have felt about Bitstrips. I will admit, that I created an avatar and made 3 comics, but then my newsfeed exploded with them, and I saw the error of my ways. I have since deleted and blocked the app, yet disturbingly, today I have seen a few new ones pop up on my feed (always the one about “movie night” for some reason). They didn’t indicate they were from Bitstrips, it just said my friend had posted a new photo… I’m very concerned about this.

  8. Wade Stubblefield   October 31, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I even found reading this article virtually unbearable. Every second of learning about the app and it’s encroachment was agonizing. Time for Diablo III or StarCraft II.

  9. Tanner   October 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Im gonna go ahead and put this in the “not a real problem” pile.

  10. Anjie   October 29, 2013 at 8:00 am

    I thought I was the only one who found these things stupid and unfunny. Glad to know Im not alone.

  11. Sarah Adams   October 28, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    or you could, you know, BLOCK the app if it irritates you. Unless you just like to be irritated.

    • Simon the Shepherd   November 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      I tried that. Facebook continued to show people’s comments on each other’s Bitstrips, and post them as basic photos.

  12. adey   October 28, 2013 at 4:14 am

    the enola gay was a plane. why would there be deck chairs.. fail..

    • Jeremy Forbing   October 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm

      This is my favorite comment. Please read everything I ever write ever. Thank you.

    • Drema   November 7, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      ADEY – Excellent catch about the Enola Gay! Thanks for being alert & posting the truth – major fail when you’re writing something to publish! (But I am in agreement that these ‘comics’ are hideous and I just blocked Bitstrips FB page to save my brain cells! I need all of them I can keep!)

  13. Dennis   October 27, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Some people have too much time their hands. Why not get a real life and a real job, meanwhile don’t forget no one forces you to look at any social media. Wait, you don’t live in reality, so back to social media to get a life.

    See how feels to be trashed, people are having a little fun live and let live for good nest sakes!!!

    • Jeremy Forbing   October 28, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      You really changed my perspective. I have too much time on hands, now I see how feels. Thanks.

      • Val   December 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm

        Subtle and hilarious.

  14. Jackie   October 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Thankfully I have found a way to block Bitstrips so I NEVER have to see another one AGAIN. It’s just a fad and I guarantee that it will be gone and resting peacefully with the Harlem Shake and and “Go home__, you’re drunk!”. I couldn’t stand to see another one and it was driving me NUTS. My news feed was clogged with unfunny Bitstrips that made absolutely no sense; and I was then able to see how many of my friends were clever…NONE!

  15. Crucial Conflict   October 26, 2013 at 12:56 am

    I just think the author was trying to say with all of the things u can do now with facebook something are better left simple….and saying how u feel versus me looking at a picture I have to not only read but figure out what your trying to communicate is a bit of a waste of the humans brains capabilities. I also googled Bitstrips and this article popped up and to be honest I like to get both sides before leaping into pointless apps..

  16. Lorenzo   October 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Oh…just lighten up will ya?

  17. Rmtalley   October 25, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I enjoy Bitstrips and I think that we as people who are on facebook, are allowed to have a bit of fun. Instead of posting photos of our food all the dang time. So how about we just stop being so annoyed with things that are so frivolous and start to concern ourselves with real life. Rea a news paper and watch the news. Those are things to be concerned with. If you don’t like things on Facebook, DELETE IT!! The end! Get over it!

  18. Elizabeth   October 25, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Most of the Bitstrips I see on my news feed are not comical at all; though there have been less than a handful that have elicited a laugh from me. What I’ve gotten from seeing them on my news feed is that it’s just a “more creative” way for people to express how they feel at the moment or what they’ve done today instead of just typing it in a status update. I personally don’t care for Bitstrips, but to each their own…

  19. Benjamin Staton   October 25, 2013 at 7:33 am

    I entered “what is bitstrips” into Google, and–fittingly!–this article was the first result. Very well done. Thanks for your enlightening, refreshing article that told me exactly what I was seeking to learn. Peace.

  20. Al   October 25, 2013 at 7:24 am

    I don’t think the author knows what the Enola Gay is.

    • Bob K   October 25, 2013 at 8:25 am

      On the contrary Al. It is a twisty way of saying that Bitstrips is ineffectual *and* gives you a very small palette of characters.

    • Jeremy Forbing   October 28, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      It’s that club at 19th and Castro that has shirtless nights on Thursdays, isn’t it?

  21. Jeremy Wells   October 25, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Oh, the comments! The comments!

    Thank you, for letting the fun and satire sail right over your humorless heads and keeping the joke going!

  22. Genese (@geeslaweez)   October 24, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    I think Bitstrips is frigging hilarious so i don’t see what the problem is. My friends and their silly situations in comic form is way more entertaining then just plain text. a picture is worth a thousand words. So sorry if your friends suck and are boring. Mine are creative and funny and I will use this app until I die!!!

    • Karen   October 27, 2013 at 3:54 am

      Well said Genese!

    • Jeremy Forbing   October 28, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      So either your friends actually are funny, unlike mine, or you are actually not. Either way, I envy your contentment. Fight on.

  23. Rachel   October 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Wait, so if I’m understanding correctly, you think people are not as funny as they may think they are, so seeing their bitstrips annoys you? Well why don’t their status updates annoy you as well? My Facebook feed is way more clogged with annoying inspirational quotes than bitstrips comics.

    • Jeremy Forbing   October 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      I am often annoyed by status updates too. I am an equal opportunity misanthrope. Still, somehow I find bad inspirational quotes more pitiable than failed attempts at humor. But both are plagues. Rotten inspirational quotes tell you your friends are sentimental and mawkish, but at least there is sincerity to them. Watching someone think they are clever and prove themselves wrong irks me more, but your hatred may vary.

  24. iggiebop   October 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you!

    It figures that an app designed to delude the talentless into believing they are funny would employ the lowest common denominator as far as art direction is concerned. Truly horrendous.

  25. Becky Dantzler Messamer   October 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Not all cartoons are meant to be funny. Family Circus was more endearing than funny, but occasionally seeing yourselves or your kids represented was comical. My friend used Bitstrips to say she was having a bad day. Self-absorbed? Maybe. Trying to be funny? Definitely not.

  26. Jeremy Forbing   October 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    Of course there are more important things to worry about, and my status updates are pretty annoying. But Bitstrips went from “Oh that’s a thing people do” to “Wow, this is irritating the crap out of me” in record time. This article is about celebrating that.

  27. nikki   October 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I think there are more important things to worry abt.. who cares if some one likes to post comics of themselves. I bet some people find your status updates pretty annoying too.


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