The Internet is truly a beautiful thing. It has expanded into our daily lives to the point where one often has to clarify if a topic of conversation is internet-relevant in order to make sure one is understood. I look at this age of universal connectivity with pride, and I welcome the inevitable globalization that will eventually come about because of our constantly expanding connectedness. However, something has been happening lately that is really making me grind my teeth: the saturation of Internet meme references in everyday conversation and life.
The usage of memes in real life has been on the rise for years now, so much so that the phrase “the Internet is leaking” has become a meme itself. People have been saying various vocalized forms of “lol,” “pwn,” and other net-colloquialisms since the rise of AOL Instant Messenger. But it seems these days I can’t even walk up the steps to dinner without passing two posters featuring “The Most Interesting Man in the World” and “Rage Faces.”
You could say that I am fairly in-the-know when it comes to the internet as a community. Being socially awkward and fairly introverted, a good portion of my time is spent on websites like reddit.com and Fark.com. I’ve even connected with several people at Wooster because we are all reddit users, so I can understand one’s desire to make real-life connections using a popular form of humor that is rapidly becoming mainstream. Having said that, I want to scream every time someone uses “Win” or “Fail” as a one-word sentence.
Every week, a new joke, video or colloquialism goes viral and receives millions of hits. I laugh hysterically with everyone else, just like I laughed at David After Dentist, Antoine Dodson, Leeroy Jenkins, and so on all the way back to the Grape Lady. The thing is, the nature of this form of entertainment is that it’s spontaneous, easily accessible, and easily contributable. Something hilarious and unique hits the internet every hour; I should not have to be in Lowry clutching my temples while somebody across the room is screaming “Hide yo kids, hide yo wife!” I don’t even understand why nobody else is as frustrated as I am; we all lived through the Budweiser “Wassup!” fiasco that would not die. This is the exact same thing, but only now it’s missing vowels half of the time.
There is even a film about viral characters being produced by Andrew Fischer of NURV entitled “The Chronicles of Rick Roll.” If the title isn’t enough for you, the cast includes Antoine Dodson, Leeroy Jenkins, Boxxy, and the guys from Numa Numa, Double Rainbow, Boom Goes the Dynamite, Chad Vader, and World of Warcraft Freakout. I won’t even touch the trailer for fear of aneurysm, but it’s on Youtube, so you can venture forth at your own peril.
Don’t get me wrong: I love slipping a good, timely reference into a conversation. The key word here is “timely.” A stale internet joke draws as many groans as stupid Family Guy quotes and tired Monty Python references.
The point is that if you’re making a meme reference in everyday conversation, chances are that we’ve all seen it and thought it was hilarious. These references can be great for social interaction when applied correctly. However, as fast as a meme can be generated and popularized, so too does it age at the pace of a housefly.
Eric Batke is a Senior Staff Writer for the Voice and can be reached for comment at EBatke12@wooster.edu.