Internet Memes: The New Culture in an Undefined Age
Many say we are living in the Technology age – obsessed wit h the newest gadgets and our Facebook news feed. Others would say the current generation is living in the Microwave Age – if it takes you longer than 30 seconds – “ain’t nobody got time for that”. I say we are living in the ___________ Age. There is no point in defining it because it will change by the time I finish writing this.
Even the internet tells me I’m two months too late – Grumpy Cat peaked in March and now my topic is outdated.
But the internet is a beautiful thing – we have an endless access to information – accurate and inaccurate but who cares? But while on the internet, the masses are now the cultural producers, setting trends, deciding what is in and what is out. No more are artists, writers, designers, or celebrities the ones who are determining what we are talking about. The average person now has power to create trends – the power (of pop culture at least) is in the hands of the masses.
What used to be just part of a sub-culture of nerds who spent the majority of their days on message boards has now become wildly popular. Grumpy Cat has made its rounds on the media circuit – interviews with Anderson Cooper and articles in People Magazine – and has now become a household name. Even your parents, who don’t understand what internet memes are, know and refer to Grumpy Cat in conversations about work and traffic. He is on t-shirts and mugs that you can buy off the internet to tell others “Yes, I’m in the know, I’m hip” and “Yes, I’m just as grumpy as Grumpy Cat without my morning cup of coffee”.
We can all identify with Grumpy Cat – not because we are grumpy on Monday mornings but because we all own the image and what he represents. While websites try to pinpoint origins of internet memes, their creation is ambiguous and unimportant. Everyone created him – hundreds of people have had a hand in producing newer and funnier memes to go with the image. Jokes and ideas have been passed down from person to person and the image has transformed from just a silly picture of a cat to a piece of pop culture. But creating is not the only way in owning – imitation, reposting, referencing – through our interaction these memes continue to live on and evolve. It becomes a collaborative effort.
You may be thinking “If a very annoyed looking cat represents America, then we must be pretty dumb.” I beg to differ.
The internet has become an equalizer – anyone and everyone has a voice, a platform. We can create pointless jokes about our everyday lives or express your opinion on important issues through memes. Is it a stretch to say that internet memes represents democracy? Maybe. But everyone can have a voice on the internet.
The way in which we build cultural trends through a collective effort shows what American culture is all about – we are a nation of many ideas, beliefs, and cultures that can all come together to create something new, exciting.
Although Grumpy Cat is so five minutes ago, its rise and fall represents an evolution of America – nothing is fixed. We are always changing – minute to minute, day by day. That is the only way in which America, the melting pot, can be articulated – as ever-changing and always searching to redefine itself to be all inclusive.