Hopium is a portmanteau of the words “hope” and “opium” used to describe a fictional drug to help one stay hopeful in times of stress. It is frequently used in reaction image macros featuring Pepe the Frog hooked to an oxygen tank labeled “hopium”. The term has been used among stock market investors to describe market investors who hold on to failing investments out of false hope, and more recently by Bitcoin investors in a similar way. It is also used in political circles (typically by those who lean conservative) to criticize people with hope in certain left-leaning policies. As a meme, hopium is closely related to copium.
On December 1st, 2010, Zero Hedge user Tyler Durden published an article criticizing Goldman Sachs for an opinion on the economy. In the piece, Durden uses the term “hopium” to describe Goldman’s outlook as one based on false hope. This is one of the earliest known uses of the phrase on the web. It has since been used in multiple investment articles. On April 26th, 2020, Redditor CryptoBitCoinUSD posted an Ara Ara Chase meme about bitcoin investing along with the title, “Hopium” (shown below). The post garnered over 2,000 upvotes and is an example of how the word has been used in investment memes prior to 2020.
On June 27th, Reddit user Edvard_Sidoryk posted an image to /r/pepethefrog of Pepe hooked to an oxygen tank labeled “hopium” (shown below). This is one of the first instances of the word attached to an image of Pepe.
On June 25th, 2018, Urban Dictionary user Cado et Vivo defined hopium as “The state of wallowing in self-pity combined with the delusion of potential fame/greatness. One in this state will hope for others to pity or save them, yet paradoxically romanticize their own struggle, pitying themselves and never moving on to achieve their dreams.” The definition received 31 likes in over 2 years. In late October and early November of 2020, as a result of the 2020 United States Presidential Election hopium memes grew in popularity alongside copium memes. On October 29th, Redditor NINJAsDepression posted an image of Wojak wearing a hopium tank to /r/VaushV, garnering over 870 upvotes in 10 days (shown below).
On November 3rd, 2020, Twitter user ConnorKimball2 replied to a post from the Twitter account Accidentally Left-Wing, “There’s hope for them, today we splurge on hopium for her” along with an image of Pepe wearing a hopium tank (shown below). The reply gained over 180 likes in 6 days.