Monday, February 12, 2018

Memes and Selfies

I love that this class recognizes the importance of something as seemingly-silly as memes in the overall narrative that is digital culture in the 21st century. Memes are very important because, as I mentioned in class, they're a form of communication that we tend to take for granted. For example, I mentioned The Meme Bible, a gift I bought for my friends (10/10 recc, by the way, buy it immediately #notspon). When I looked through the activity book, I realized that the strangest thing about my absurd purchase, was that my parents would look at it and have no earthly idea what the book was about. The language is English, but it might as well be ancient Greek for the communication barrier. There are many levels to understanding memes, some far below the surface, and that fact is amazing to me.

In another meme-related note, I bought a game for my fiance for Christmas called What Do You Meme?, which is like Cards Against Humanity but with memes. To play, the dealer pulls a meme card which displays a photo, for example:

The players then throw down cards that have phrases on them, to correspond with the photo. The best photo/phrase combination wins. Perhaps this could be played by people with no understanding of memes, but I think that a huge element of the game would be missing. Memes have meta narrative and are best enjoyed when they are understood. 

Make Bank: Memes!

I live for memes, have I mentioned that enough times yet? I love them. I'm fascinated by them. I think they are a fascinating view into the mind of the current world, for better or for worse. My fiance sent me an article this morning from, regarding the bleak nature of millennial memes-- e.g. eating Tide Pods. The author compares the nihilism and absurdity of millennial humor to Dadaism, a movement that has been around for a century. It's an interesting look into how history repeats itself.

As for my memes:

The Most Fascinating Subject

Nosedive (Black Mirror Meme)

Nosedive (Black Mirror Meme)

Memes That Meme Themselves


In regard to selfies, selfies are a complicated topic for me. I don't think they're hugely empowering to people, nor do I believe that they suggest a desperate cry for help. I think they're pictures, as we have been taking for years.

Everyone wants to look good in pictures, and selfies allow individuals to choose how they portray themselves to the world. There is no inherent issue in wanting to post a cute, happy, sexy selfie. However, selfies tend to be correlated with vanity, which is another topic altogether. Vanity is a real thing that I believe should be avoided, primarily because it serves no one. To that end, I will include one of my favorite drawings by Charles Allan Gilbert, "All Is Vanity."

A picture speaks a thousand words
Selfies are not the problem. Vanity is the problem. Desiring beauty is not the problem. Being consumed by beauty is the problem. Being confident is not the problem. The desperate need for verification is the problem.

Personally, I don't take many selfies because I think the world is more interesting than my particular face, but I certainly don't think selfies are inherently bad. You do you, friend. The problem was never selfies, the problem is, as it always has been, the meaning beneath the selfie. If taking a selfie makes you feel better about yourself, absolutely do it, but also understand that your worth lies far deeper than what a camera can capture. 

DDAs, 2/6 through 2/12/18


  1. I've played that game with photos-- everyone enjoyed it. To me it shows how important it is to include context and text to clarify our own intent with sharing. Images can be misinterpreted. I like your thinking on selfies, too. And when you said, "your worth lies far deeper than what a camera can capture," I also think whatever we share needs clarity if we want others to more deeply understand our own intent and meaning. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I agree that, in terms of both memes and selfies, context makes all the difference.

  2. OMG I've been talking about the connection of memes and new digital media to nihilism and a burgeoning kind of Neo-Dadaism that callbacks to Dada proper for so long now and I'm glad more people are seeing the connection (I'm interested in making my thesis about it and I hunted down the article I think your fiance showed you). When viewed through that lens--that the sense is in the nonsense, that art is reflective of the absurdity of life-I think the relevance of memes and new digital art becomes clear and so poignant.

  3. Wow, you really hit all the notes I was looking for with your memes, grokking the self referential bit, and weaving the Nosedive theme into them.

    That's first I heard of the Meme game... I'm wondering if maybe we might play in class when we start talking about games (I want to go more into an understanding of game structure, mechanics, rules, cheats) than the platforms of games.

    Really great work on this, your interest shows. Memes are #4life