The Washington Post recently did a thing where they asked 12 people what they would “throw out” –things that didn’t need to be a part of the world any more. Joe Randazzo, editor of The Onion, contributed the answer “internet memes:”
What used to be an amusing byproduct of Internet use has mutated into something horrible: an insatiable parasite that impairs its host’s judgment, rendering it totally useless. Instead of acting as an organic cultural touchstone, the modern meme — from LOL, which hasn’t been used to signify physical laughter since 1997, to Lolcats — now sucks the joy out of our interconnectedness. It destroys uniqueness. Once an “enjoyable thing” becomes a “meme,” we stop enjoying the thing for its own sake, but consume and regurgitate our enjoyment of it as a symbol of hipness, as if to say: “I am aware of this thing’s popularity — therefore I, too, exist!”
I wish I had been able to articulate this thought when I was struggling with it a little over a year ago. What I was expressing then, but could not articulate, was a deep dissatisfaction with the emergence of music-as-meme. In this upside down world, knowing of something becomes equal to experiencing something. Depth is discouraged for breadth. Artists are crowned as kings, then discarded a week later.
It’s become an incredible power to want something . It’s become uncommon to have an aesthetic.
[This is the first time that I get to use the category “Memology” for something approximating it’s logical meaning.]