If you’re mindlessly watching videos on your social feeds, you may notice people holding up four fingers. Often, there’s no rhyme or reason to tie these videos together other than this obscure signal.
Internet fads shift almost daily, and staying up to date can be a full-time job. And like other fads on TikTok and similar sites, this symbol can have multiple meanings.
Today we’ll explore the various origins of this confusing trend, so you don’t feel out of the loop the next time you’re scrolling.
Let’s check it out!
Why Are TikTokers Holding 4 Fingers Up?
This particular gesture may mean many things, but more recently, it’s a sort of inside joke no one can get to the bottom of. In fact, tons of Urban Dictionary spam posts suggest conflicting meanings.
Some top posts suggest it’s a sign of loyalty to your partner. One claims it’s a way of identifying yourself as queer and not ready to come out of the closet. Others suggest you’re very successful at playing the field.
Like many random Urban Dictionary definitions, there’s no basis for most of these posts. They’re just trolling you, and reading the entries further confuses the trend.
Is the 4 Fingers Up Hand Gesture a Gang Sign?
The short answer here is no. When hip-hop artists use four fingers up to make a W, they’re identifying themselves with the west coast.
Other rappers make a different version of the sign for no apparent reason. Urban Dictionary once again comes with a claim saying it represents a Florida-based gang. Others claim it’s just meant to express respect for your neighborhood.
No known gangs are using this symbol to identify themselves. As far as anyone can tell, this is one of those internet urban legends.
Pro Tip: Keeping on top of trends can be a little challenging. Find out What Is Jeep Ducking?
Other Possible Meanings of 4 Fingers Up
Some proven meanings for the four fingers up gesture exist, and deciphering them usually requires a little context. Meanwhile, one of them is deliberately vague for a scary reason.
Fourth Quarter of Football
Four fingers up on the football field means it’s time for maximum effort. You’re in the final quarter of the game, and the last 15 minutes are where things get crude in the final quarter of the game.
But the mentality can translate into other aspects of life. When it’s time to give it everything you have, you may see this hand sign spring into action. It can be like a little pep rally for yourself. There are no shortcuts around hard work. So, if you’re living like it’s always the final round, you can make things happen.
But, honestly, we can’t assume anything with Zoomers. They’re more than happy to troll us on TikTok for laughs.
Mental Health Awareness
You’ll find no shortage of viral trends related to wellness. In 2017, four fingers up showed support for mental health awareness. They used the gesture because one in four people struggle with mental illness. By normalizing the issue, they hope to inspire people to get the help they need.
Mental health advocates have worked for years to highlight these struggles. This version had the palm facing your chest and the thumb tucked away. Tom Hardy and other celebrities helped popularize the meme for a BBC campaign. But you may still see it from time to time today in your feed.
Support for Certain Religious Groups
Back in 2013, the signal showed solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood. The organization was deemed a terrorist group by the Egyptian president, but many felt he hadn’t won the election.
A four fingers up sign was meant to honor protestors demanding a government change. It was around the time defense forces in Egypt massacred 600. The group comprised a mix of moderate Muslims, Christians, and secular groups.
The sharp political divide between secular and Islamist groups created a lot of controversies. Other countries nearby adopted the symbol to protest dictatorships. Over time, the sign was used by all kinds of groups to criticize dictatorships in general.
Silent Signal for Help
This version of the four fingers up uses the palm facing outward with the thumb tucked in. It’s a way to show you’re in trouble, but you can’t ask for help directly.
The signal has saved someone’s life on at least one occasion. In November of 2021, a young woman was kidnapped in Oklahoma. She flashed the sign, which was trending on TikTok, while sitting in the car. A passing motorist called for help, and police rescued her.
If someone answers the door or posts online using this signal, try to find a safe way to check in with them. They may need your help. Try asking questions they can answer with a yes or no, such as, “Do you need me to call 911?”
How Do Trends Start on TikTok?
All social media platforms are meant to encourage interaction with users. But with millions of people posting online constantly, it’s hard to understand how some capture attention.
TikTok videos are incredibly popular with a young audience. While some accounts set trends, most of them respond to them. For example, the get ready with me videos, outfit of the day inspirations, and dance challenges.
These videos are popular because they’re simple to replicate and help people feel in tune with their peers.
But many internet crazes start with influencers. These people are professionals that make their living on grabbing likes and views. The more silly and creative they get, the more likely they’ll go viral.
Pro Tip: Get the inside scoop on more TikTok trends by uncovering what a BORG is.
Should You Do the 4 Fingers Up in Pictures?
TikTokers can’t seem to stop talking with their hands. Sometimes the silly gestures punctuate their points, and other times they have hidden meaning. You probably won’t get canceled for using four fingers up, but you may not be in on the joke, either.
However, if you ask us, the best videos feature cute little animals. They’re just so much more relatable than people making weird signals with their hands.
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