Stop the Memes

“Daaaaaaaaamn, Daniel! Back at it again with the vapid lack of originality and desperate need for the approval of internet strangers!”

Hi, I’m Ben Schultz, the proprietor of Southern Boulevard. And I’d like you to stop making terrible memes. In fact, I command you. As a 4th semester DMD major at UConn (that’s Dank Meme Design) I’m more than qualified at this point.

What is a meme? Why do they cause so much pain? Why are there so many terrible memes these days? What can be done to stop them? These questions and more will by answered in the following essay. Mind you, I’m not talking about Dank Memes. I’m talking about the kind of memes that become “a thing” on Twitter, Vine, and spread faster than ringworm in a middle school wrestling team. I’m looking at you, Daniel. This kid got a lifetime supply of sneakers from Ellen because there’s definitely no reason those sneakers should go to a kid with a debilitating disease or anything.

For those of you over 37, memes are as terrifying to you as I imagine having to remember phone numbers.

Meme:

  1. an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.
    • a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

Etymology of Meme: 1970s: from Greek mimēma ‘that which is imitated,’ on the pattern of gene.

Some memes:

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 3.51.02 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-03-06 at 3.50.51 PM.png

Let’s get something clear: saying a meme at someone’s face is not humor. Humor, or comedy is derived from finding an empathetic connection with other people – something that makes them go, “Yeah, I’ve felt that way.” Either that or it shocks them and makes them uncomfortable enough to laugh until you stop making them cringe. This is a lower form but still notable.

What isn’t comedy? Creating an inside joke (a name, a word pronounced with an accent, something that would only be funny among three or four people) and then forcing everyone to enjoy it now. This destroys the beauty of the inside joke, and the culprit is not social media, but rather the fact that Tweens and people with remarkable amounts of time on their hands and remarkably low levels of talent have access to social media.

The problem one can see forming most recently is the fact that a lot of memes are videos now. Thanks to Vine, people can share annoying Memes that start playing automatically as you scroll past them.

“Damn Daniel” is perhaps the most glaringly obvious crime of this type. There is literally nothing of comedic value happening in this video. Watch it, if you haven’t seen it yet and have some way of stopping your eyes from bleeding on hand:

Here he and his friend get their Ellen recognition. (Many people have pointed out that a surfboard isn’t really equivalent to 50 years’ worth of shoes):

Sorry to waste 30 of your seconds. Anyway, there’s endless memes like this. It’s not worth giving examples, just trust me on this. Such memes are often accompanied by a long string of emojis and the caption “truuuuuuuuuu” or “lmaoooooooo0000000000” which serve to further irritate the person whose Facebook newsfeed is now clogged with such digital acne scarring.

Why the memes are flowing so heavily these days is anyone’s guess. Memes used to be pretty Dank and immune to the mainstream, meaning there was a curated level of craft in each meme. Loving hours invested by 4chan-ers in their cousin’s garages honed these memes into perfection, much like a sword-smith honing a blade in the middle ages. Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 3.49.02 PM.png

Then everyone got a pocket computer, sometimes several, and our natural need for attention simply translated into the creation of hasty, lazy memes, the misunderstanding that memes are not actually good content, and the incessant sharing of meme after meme with complete disregard for the digital space and its denizens. So there you have it.

Note: Southern Boulevard and his friends, on rare occasions, quote memes to each other with complete irony. We have observed people infected with memes, bloated to the point that they blurt memes out instead of actually well-executed jokes during conversation. These people are usually too far gone to save, and must be avoided at all costs. All one must do is look into their eyes when they speak the meme. If they utter the meme with genuine effort and a complete lack of irony, they are infected. To remain immune, simply don’t partake of memes.

How, you ask? (I’m sure you asked that). Facebook lets you unfollow people so the “friendship” stays intact but you don’t have to confront a wall of digital cysts every morning. I want to see my cousin’s new baby, not seven memes you shared while moving your bowels (hard as that may be to believe, since both involve a fair amount of feces). I am also perturbed that you think I want to see these memes. Keep your memes where they belong: with you in the bathroom. Nothing feels better than unfollowing a chronic memer, no matter how nice they may be in person. It’s quite cathartic.

Another technique for stopping memes is to turn off your computer and go for a walk. If you must use your computer, use it to game, edit videos, watch a documentary about Belugas, read the news, Netflix, Skype, Google Earth your ex’s house, message your loved ones, watch YouTube videos, or read Southern Boulevard. Whatever you do, do not, under any circumstances, meme.

Types of people to avoid: Chronic Memers, who spew other people’s memes all over social media because they’re bored and hope just a little that they’ll seem funny because of it; and Unironic Memers, who use the meme in place of actual comedic talent or effort. Just because everyone knows something’s “a thing” doesn’t mean it is acceptable to use it to attempt to make the connection that makes comedy as an art form so satisfying.

You can’t stop people from making memes, but you can avoid their toxicity. Have a swell day and don’t drink the memes.

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