When I am in the mood for a good existential crisis, overthinking the absurd amount of power that technology and the internet hold over me seems to do the trick. Consciously, we all make decisions on how we decide to use the internet and social media. From how much we share, to what platforms we use, to what we consume. Unconsciously, we've all had our perception of reality skewed by something we have seen on social media. The media we consume online can easily shape the way we view a topic, an event, or anything really. With the constant debate regarding media accuracy and authenticity, we're all skeptic scrollers because, we’ve all been duped before.
We are in a constant search for the truth. Yet the answer has been in front of our face the entire time. One source of content has remained true. One source of content that is the true word of the people. The one thing that we somehow hear about before knowing about the actual thing.
“No, but I’ve seen the memes.”
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard or even said this expression in response to someone asking about a current event or trending topic.
Blurting out those words recently about Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift made me start to think more about this—on how memes reflect our values, anxieties, fears and obsessions. They offer a bizarre window into the evolution of our culture. I like to think of them as the hieroglyphics of the digital age—a universal language. They are written by the internet, for the internet.
Memes connects individuals who would have otherwise never crossed paths. From Instagram influencers, to your average Uncle Jim and Academy Award winning films, memes are born, anywhere at any time.
Cultural and historical moments are now magnified instantly and remixed in infinite ways. Public figures have become easily shareable, exaggerated caricatures, blurring the line between reality and fiction. They unwittingly reinforcing unrealistic perceptions, and foster deeper, parasocial relationships.
When shit hits the fan, memes become our coping mechanism. Memes are a way for us to process and make sense of the world around us. Now, we turn everything from global conflicts and family reunions into bite-sized comedy bits.
Memes are the lexicon of the digital age.
So as we share and create new memes, remember, we're not just playing in cyberspace, we're writing our own chapter in the saga of society. We are leaving footnotes in history that future historians will dissect pixel by pixel to understand what we were and how we thought. We’re literally weaving ourselves into the living, breathing tapestry of our culture. And, there is no doubt that we are all active participants in this conversation that spans the globe and transcends space and time.
And while that Danny Devito meme may seem like simple comedy gold, you should also think of it as a time stamp on the walls of mankind. Or don’t. History will be the judge.