As technology continues to rapidly grow and diversify, whole cottage industries are springing up under the tech umbrella, including internet memes and viral content.
Arielle Madigan is one of six new meme librarians for the Library of Congress, and one of a growing population of American meme industry professionals. Madigan has devoted herself to the study of meme life cycles.
“Say Kanye West jerks out a new album. Thanks to the internet, we can listen to the album immediately, digest it into memes, then abandon it in two weeks and move onto the next shiny object,” Madigan explained. “See, the problem is memes are incredibly addictive, yet so intellectually devoid that internet users need to constantly consume new memes and iterate on existing meme structures.”
“Think of it this way: a person scrolling aimlessly through a Facebook feed has a lot in common with a blue whale feeding on krill, only we don’t have baleens to filter out the useless chaff. Uh, basically I study and document that.”
Also weighing in on meme culture is none other than Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “These days, whenever a meme page gets taken down for whatever reason, people say it got Zucked,” Zuckerberg explained with a chuckle. “On the one hand it is kind of fun to hear people say, even jokingly, that I pay that kind of close personal attention to the site. But on the other hand, fuck off. A publicly-traded company is so much more than a website, even one with 2 billion monthly users. ‘Waaah, my memes got Zucked!’—you morons probably type this stuff with one hand down your pants, imagining Jesse Eisenberg.”
“I dunno man, it’s weird,” said Josh Holtz, narrator and creator of the ‘Damn, Daniel’ viral video. “The past year has been such a whirlwind. One day you’re just saying making funny shit with your friends and putting it on the internet, and you’re only messing around, showing off—and man, I remember VCRs and shit. It’s so crazy you can get famous on the internet,” he said, falling into a contemplative silence. “America really is a place where anyone can become successful…for no reason…at any time,” Lara finally murmured. “And let me tell you something: people say money doesn’t matter, but now I see how much money helps. I’m 20 years young and worth 3.6 mil!”
“Actually, 1.2 mil. I keep trying to tell him, he’s only got another few months of money left if he keeps this up,” said Tom Washburn, a financial adviser who has cultivated a living managing the wealth of viral internet icons. “Memes aren’t built to last, and when they dry up, so does the money. But I don’t begrudge these kids their 15 minutes of fame. I sure wish I’d done more cocaine in my twenties,” Washburn sighed. “Anyway, the clients come and go, but now we have a nice little marketplace that’s built up around viral internet media. I feel pretty secure. I just helped the kids behind ‘Trolley Problem Memes’ file for bankruptcy and got the guy behind ‘cracking a cold one with the boys’ on the phone the same day.”
In a culture as countercultural and volatile as meme culture, fields more involved than academia, tech, and personal finance may struggle to keep up. But in this tumultuous world, one thing is certain: this is the future that liberals want.
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