Internet Memes Strike Back

4 06 2008

Trawling around on YouTube this evening I realized that I’m probably the only person who hasn’t done a cover to Tay Zonday’s Chocolate Rain.” Like the Star Wars Kid before him, the power of the Internet Meme has stretched to John Mayer, Tre Cool, and a host of much much lesser known YouTubers.

But the coolest one of all has to be this version from Pittsburgh metal/hardcore band Ryashon.

The indication of a true Internet meme is when it goes beyond water cooler talk (or, in today’s word, beyond “Twitter Talk”) and becomes acted on. Once it gets participation on a large scale then it’s on its way.

A few years ago there was the guy (Noah Kalina) who took a picture of himself in the same position every day for, what?, two years and then strung them together into a short video. Within days, dozens of copies and parodies had popped up on YouTube. There was another one, posted by a guy named Matt Harding, that also took over. It showed a guy dancing madly in about three dozen different cities. Cut to music, it was actually a self-referring comment on Internet memes — with tons of energy it started popping up all over the Internet world. You can see “Where The Hell Is Matt?” by clicking here.

What makes one clever idea take off, while a thousand others die a self-conscious death?

To get a sense of what I mean when I say “internet memes” check out this really nifty Internet Meme Timeline, where such societal momentary crazes are published on a linkable timeline all the way to 1996 (can you say “Dancing Baby” and the page full of dancing hamsters anyone?) Of course, one of my personal favorites is “All Your Base Are Belong To Us” which has a certain geek appeal.

=============== ADDED COMENT ===============

Randy Riggs, over at Mental Floss, has a discussion about Internet Memes in which he makes the following hilarious, but completely true, observation:

When Ted Stevens, the elderly senator from Alaska, infamously referred to the internet as “a series of tubes” during hearings on a 2006 net neutrality bill which he himself had sponsored, he unwittingly entered into a kind of irony vortex. Stevens had simultaneously proved himself clueless about the web — at one point saying “an internet was sent by my staff” in reference to an email — and had also created an internet meme, his “tubes” comment earning him a place among such hallowed meme icons as the Numa Numa guy and “2 Girls 1 Cup” (not to mention President Bush’s infamous neologism “the internets.”)

I don’t know about you, but I constantly refer to the Net as “the internets” (to the consternation of friends of mine who weren’t aware of the famous — to me — Bushism) and I’ve also dropped the phrase “series of tubes” into conversation, with equally blank-faced results.

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