“My Generation” column about “icks” and memes
Memes carry us through life
Memes – these are these funny pictures on the internet! Yes, but that doesn’t come close to doing them justice. They are far more powerful, far more inclusive. They shape an entire generation.
It’s unbelievable that I’ve been writing articles about my generation for almost a year, about what moves and shapes us – and I’ve never written a column about what is probably the most influential concept of my time: about memes. The internet phenomenon par excellence.
Maybe I never wrote anything about them because they’ve been such a fundamental part of my life for so long. “Memes keep me alive.” I hear this sentence every week. Because memes carry you through life, make you smile and often act as a source of information. That the Queen has died or that Roger Federer is retiring – I first found out through memes.
But maybe I never dared to tackle the topic because memes are pretty diffuse and difficult to describe. Especially if you don’t come into contact with them every day. I’ve had a hard time trying to explain this internet phenomenon to boomers a number of times.
One often hears: “Memes are just so funnyi videos and pictures, ugh.” But that’s not true. They are far more powerful, far more inclusive. Anything can be a meme once it gains momentum online. And that shapes an entire generation. Our humor and also our reality.
“In 80 years, our time period will be analyzed using memes.”
It usually works like this: someone on the internet – patient 0 – shares an observation or a feeling from everyday life. For example, patient 0 finds it incredibly unattractive when someone accidentally sings the wrong lyrics out loud to a song. It gives her the so-called «ick». An extremely stupid concept. Actually.
And yet the statement resonates. The virus is spreading. Voilà, we have a meme. Some take the observation further, reporting their own strange “icks”. Others make fun of the observation, creating memes about the meme.
Patient 0 hit a nerve with her everyday observation. Created an insider that is now shared by the entire internet generation and for which everyone has an opinion or at least a saying. And she exacerbated precisely this phenomenon with a small, unimportant observation, with her “ick”. Everyone pays attention to “icks” in their lives.
This dynamic, triggered by a random person and their mind fart, is extremely exciting to follow. That’s the beauty of memes. They are often so insignificant and yet do so much to us. And indicate what is on our minds. That’s why I’m predicting it today: In 80 years, our time period will be analyzed at school using memes!
Noa Dibbasey (21) also entertains memes richer than the above. That might not make it into the history books. She writes in Blick every other Friday.