The internet has a strange idea of what an entrepreneur is. Facebook monetizes your existence alive or dead. You can make a living off of being a D-bag to celebrities. Presumably, I can call myself an entrepreneur if I have a constant flow of traffic to this blog and hope you click on adds. (There could probably also be a donate or subscription button for when I ever go crazy. Let’s be honest here, I’ve been thinking about it.)
The internet is a weird place that nobody understands. If the Dot-com bubble was any indication, there will be people to take advantage of anyone willing to throw money at them, if there’s a large enough in-crowd.
Take the ‘cheezburger network‘ for example. A business designed to just be a database of pictures and videos for simpletons. It’s bothered me for a long time, because it’s been a viable business for Ben Huh since the beginning of 2007. Can you imagine how it even got it’s start? Ben staying up late past 2 am saving every dopey cat picture he could find, slapping a water mark on it, and uploading it to his blogspot blog, so he could ‘own’ it (though, they’ve cut down on the watermarking lately). eBaumsworld did something like that at a worse capacity. But that’s the internet entrepreneur in his simplest form. Claiming the work of others to make themselves wealthy.
I still to this day believe that Something Awful did it right. Often times it has been the branching off point for a lot of the internet’s culture. Let’s Plays, Slender Man, 4chan, and even the social awareness of a MEME. As far as I know Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka of SA, is happy to see a lot of the things that start on his website, grow on their own.
Well, the creation of a MEME on SA might be exaggerating it a little. I remember one of the early instances of a ‘MEME’, the “Ate my balls” comics. Which were comic strips sitting in the obscure tasteless humour section on yahoo.com about characters or celebrities in situations where they ‘ate balls’… which is exactly what you think it would be. Yet ever since the existence of All your base, There’s been a cultural shift in what the internet aspires as humour.
An analogy that I always make so I can understand it, is this:
There’s a party going on, and everybody is having a good time. Socializing, learning about each other. Suddenly, the funniest dude ever walks in, stands in the the center of the room and does his thing. The room gets lost in a sea of laughter. After all, why not? He’s the funniest guy for a reason, he put thought into it and it’s executed wonderfully.
Suddenly, not even a minute later, someone else decides he wants to be the funniest guy in the room, and immediately makes the exact same joke to feel just as cool. So he gets away with it, because people are still laughing about it the first time. The cycle repeats itself, and eventually everybody stops laughing. They’ve heard it too much, it’s no longer funny. In that time, the funniest guy in the room is insignificant because his joke is no longer a joke.
I guess that’s what the mass interpretation of a meme is. Everybody in the comedy club is trying to tell each other the aristocrats joke at the same time. But because everybody is using the stage, nobody is in the audience appreciating the joke. Those that stumble past the comedy club don’t think it’s funny because they hear everything at once and don’t know which one was the original joke.
I think I should stop with the analogies.
Since the existence, or awareness of the word MEME, internet society has found another way to lose grasp of individuality. It goes beyond a joke at this point. YTMND, memegenerator, Rage comics, anything on the cheezburger site. it’s all the convoluted idea of “If it was funny the first time, it’ll stay funny every second until it no longer is.” It passes off as humour because people want to be in a hurry to be lazy. How many times have you gone to your favourite website, and the one thing that was genuinely funny on that one particular day, becomes repeated by the community for the rest of that websites existence? Because the community wants to be exactly like those people. Then it’s one of those really stupid things that the website becomes involuntarily known for, even though there’s far more to it than that.
If you notice, even a little bit, every website is like that now.
So when I think back at MEMEs, the ‘Spontaneous Combustion’ Episode of South Park comes to mind. People are afraid of combusting, so they are told to fart as a way to prevent that from happening. But because people are farting all over the place, all the time, Global Warming starts to happen. Then to Counter that, they’re all told to fart in moderation. It’s not dangerous to the environment if you do it every once in a while, or at times when it’s funny. So I can’t help but think about MEMEs that way. I’m not saying that MEMEs are a problem and should never happen, but sometimes a joke is just a joke and that’s all it ever has to be.
For information on anything or everything MEME, go to the website that totally does not endorse this blog post: KNOW YOUR MEME. The website tries to break down the origin and existence of every meme, though the first year of videos when Joanne Colan hosted Rocketboom were the only time it’s been interesting (I Think that’s around 2007/08). Since then it’s been pretty convoluted or desperate for information and lost a little bit/a lot of it’s soul. It being part of the Cheezburger network is a pretty clear indication of that.