There is a “Meme” in the Air

It looks like we’ve experienced a bit of a tonal shift in our last class. Up until this point, majority of class discussions centered around the concept of “darkness” on the internet. Although the purpose of our discussions is often described as a discovery of “lightness”, I never really felt like we managed to take a big leap toward that goal. We’ve only had some small steps, wandering around the concept. I suppose that we needed to ignite a couple of fireworks before the end of the semester approached… and here we are.

So, what was the new topic of discussion that turned the tide? Memes!… [Insert awkward silence] Yes, that’s it. I’d never considered that I would participate in a class about memes —a graduate class, mind you— with a serious discussions to follow. Firstly, let’s establish the type of meme we’d discussed in the class. It’s a humorous image with piece of text that is copied and spread by people on the internet, specifically social media users. I tend to come across many of these memes on online forums or subreddits, so I’m familiar with almost all of the popular ones. I would not consider myself a fan of memes but I do not necessarily hate them either. I’m more of a passive observer. Still, a little bit of amusement every once in a while goes a long way. Hence, I do appreciate a good meme if I stumble upon one.

It was certainly interesting to hear an in-depth analysis of memes in the class; their position on social media and how they represent unity of ideals in a specific form. Personally, I’d like to think that memes are the buoys on a digital sea (or the internet as we know it). Although there are some reflections from the real life on that “sea”, the online world tends to have its own and somewhat exclusive pop-culture. What else would be considered better representative of that particular culture than the memes? During our class discussion, I’d mentioned that the memes reminded me of the concept of wordplay in real life. If you’re not already familiar with the concept, it’s simply a “game” played by people with a common “set of linguistic norms and expectations regarding the use of language” (i.e. puns). Thus, you have to be aware of the rules in order to play it. In comparison, the function of memes could be seen under the same light; simply add the online culture awareness into the mix of those linguistic norms and expectations, and you become a player (or “a passive observer” like me). Thus, you can understand the ironic humor and the message that comes with memes, and perhaps see them from a less dismissive perspective —as some people do with puns.

We were tasked with a meme-narrative (official term?) for our blog posts. Since we had to pick one particular meme from our class collection, I’ve decided to go with the meme about ad-block (shout out to Masooch for making it!), which is the second one on top. I figured that I could also write something about the notion of ad-placement on websites as a follow-up. What I managed to come up with is the following:

meme_story_1

The story is simply about blocking those obnoxious ads that swarm the viewer. I’ll be talking about that specific subject more extensively in the following Field Guide post. For now, I’d like to simply mention that forcing viewers to deal with ads is not a decent exercise regardless of purpose (revenue), which I believe is reflected in that meme-narrative above.

Anyways… this was a really fun topic to go over. The light that is seeping in brings the positivity with it, indeed.