Shy memes on TikTok are accompanied by a variety of hashtags—#butimshy, #imshy, #shy, #shykids, #shybaby—but there’s a general, genre-defining format. In most “shy” TikTok memes, users create videos of themselves in a scenario or situation, pair the video with a specific song, then add “but I’m shy.”
The other defining ingredient in the shy meme recipe is awkwardness made physical: touching the tips of your index fingers together, in a sort of half-twiddling, half-twirling gesture, plus an exaggeratedly pigeon-toed waddling walk. It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.
Many of the videos also use a particular emoji combination that mirrors (or is mirrored by) the depiction of awkwardness: finger-pointing emojis and the pleading face: 🥺👉👈. (There’s also the option to add inward-facing socks and shoes on the outside of the fingers, for a little razzle-dazzle 🥺👉👈👟🧦).