Creating and Deconstructing my very own meme!

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This is a meme that I have created using the website Meme Generator (https://imgflip.com/memegenerator). I found it a little difficult to come up with an idea for a meme, but I finally chose to create a meme that would relate to an event that is currently trending, which is why I chose the World Cup. First, I googled both these images, which were separate pictures before I used a website called, Fotor Photo Collage (http://www.fotor.com/features/collage.html), to collage them together. Once I did this I saved the image and uploaded it to the Meme Generator website where I then typed in the text I wanted. I did not use an existing meme to create my own, but rather existing images from Google. I chose two photos that demonstrated what I wanted to critique. Both photos show professional athletes injuring themselves, where I then used text to explain the aftermath.

 I chose to create a meme relating to the World Cup because it is a popular event happening right now around the world and a lot of people are familiar with it. I chose to sarcastically mimic soccer players because it seems to be a common critique when the World Cup occurs. I have continuously heard people on the radio, in person, and over the Internet critique soccer players for ‘milking’ their injuries or pretending they are hurt. I wanted to compare it to hockey because injuries in hockey are seen and dealt with differently. I chose the hockey player, Gregory Campbell, who dove in front of a shot, which ended up breaking his leg where he still continued to play. I then used a photo of soccer players helplessly lying on the field. The text I used is set for a sarcastic tone to compare how hockey and soccer players act when they are injured, however I exaggerated the outcome to add a little humour. I think it is funny because a hockey player has broken his leg, but continues to play, where the soccer players get injured, but continue to lie on the field. Although, they are two completely different sports, society has created the idea that athletes are suppose to be strong tough individuals, but most people critique soccer because of the lack of toughness seen by the players.

Both of these sports carry a lot of culture behind them because they are popular in society today and have been for years. I believe a lot of users will be able to interpret the pun because society has created stereotypes relating to each of these sports that have been in our culture for decades. A lot of people see hockey as a sport where players are to be tough and dedicated to the game to the point where they are willing to do anything to save a goal. Whereas, society has created the idea that soccer is a “wimpy” sport and all players are ‘wimps’ who continuously fall and exaggerate their injuries. Thus, this meme is intended to make a joke about societies interpretations of hockey and soccer.

 This meme is aimed at an audience that is familiar with sports, but it is not as exclusive as some other memes that require specialized knowledge to interpret there significance. This meme can be a little easier to understand because it relates to a world event, which has a large community base. Also, the text that is included is very simple and relates directly to my point I am trying to get across. Some users may have to think about the meme for a few seconds, while others who are more familiar with sports will understand it immediately. Thus, the meme I created will circulate within a larger community of users because it is a world issue unlike the Walking Dead meme below, which requires specialized knowledge. Both memes also differ because the Walking Dead meme uses intertextuality where the sports meme also uses templatability because it can be used as a guide to make other memes.

Deconstructing the Walking Dead meme

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This is a Walking Dead meme including one of the main characters, Rick Grimes. I chose this meme because it is based on a popular TV show, which I can relate to because I follow the series. This is a very simple meme for Walking Dead fans because it is exclusive and those who watch the show can interpret its significance. Thus, this meme uses intertexuality and requires specialized knowledge otherwise users will not understand the sarcasm or pun. The meme features a picture of Rick Grimes with the text, ” We’re goin’ to war, but were gonna talk about it for 3 more episodes first”, which uses a sarcastic tone. I believe a photo of Rick was used for this meme because he is the leader of the group who tends to make all the decisions. This meme is referencing season three of the Walking dead, in which the individual who created this meme is mimicking how long it took for a certain scene to happen. After every episode previews of ‘what happens next’ were shown, which continuously displayed the group going to war. However, it took at least 5 episodes before the scene actually took place and it never happened until the last five minutes of the season finale. This meme is directed at the Walking Dead fan base because everyone would be able to relate to this feeling about the show at that time. I can say this for sure because each week after an episode people would update their Facebook status and tweet to share their opinions, which also created discussion among the fan community.

Most people wouldn’t think twice about memes having any cultural expression, but most memes can tell us a lot about where we are as a society. The Internet is developing its own global culture, which is allowing people to develop and discuss their own values. Thus, this meme relates to a very popular show in today’s society aiming at the Walking Dead fan community. It reflects the way fans think and feel about the show, which can generate discussion between the fan communities. Not only can this meme create conversations and arguments, but it can also spread ideas among other users. Memes like this can bring together a community because they begin to be passed from person to person who respond to each other’s thoughts. People can use this meme to create their own memes and continue to spread opinions and jokes about the show. As a Walking Dead fan, I can relate to this meme because myself and every other fan patiently waited for the ‘war’ to happen, but it continued to drag on until the last five minutes of the finale. After each episode fans were left to think the war would begin next episode, but that feeling continued to occur until the very last scene of season three. In which this meme makes me laugh as I can make sense of it’s sarcasm and see how true it really is.

Participation within Contemporary Digital Culture

My blog for this week will reflect on my experience thus far in the course with regards to participation within contemporary digital culture. Today, technology is inevitable because of its services available and convenience, which has caused a shift in culture so that we are now active participants rather then passive audience members. Individuals are constantly using smartphones or computers to send texts, emails, face-time, social network, and share their own information via blogging, podcasting, or creating videos. As Shafer states, we are now capable of creating and sharing our own content, rather than simply taking whatever content is available to us (Shafer, 2011). Being an active participants can include reading news online, watching videos, networking, blogging, podcasting, uploading their own videos, etc, which has given users the ability to get involved in the culture by creating their own media content. Users are also active participants when they comment and like other users status’s, photos, blogs, etc. Not only are users participating on one platform, but multiple platforms, which also allow users to share their information between each of their platforms. For example, Instagram allows users to share their photo on their Facebook page. According to Henry Jenkins, participatory culture shifts the focus of literacy from one individual’s expression to community involvement by creating discussion (Jenkins et al., 2006, p.7). When individuals are active participants they are experiencing peer to peer learning and tend to develop useful skills for the workplace.

I perceive myself as a highly involved participant within contemporary digital culture as I participate daily by using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my hotmail. I also have a smartphone, which allows me easy access to the web and each social network. I am an active produser of content, especially through my many social media platforms in which I interact with my peers, post pictures, and update my status. I believe almost everyone is an active participant, but to a certain degree. Depending on the level of use one can be classified as avid user, moderate user, or apathetic user. Participants, like myself, can be considered avid users when they partake in social media everyday and quiet often, even it just means checking your social networks for a few minutes. Whereas, moderate users tend to participate with social media daily, but may not as often as avid users. Last, apathetic users are generally users who barley engage with social media and do not have much knowledge with it. I believe majority of the public tend to be moderate users who participate daily, but do not spend hours on end sitting on the Internet. In Shafters article he claims, not only are people participants using technology, but by using it we are helping create the next generations technology (Shafer, 2011). By this, Shafter means, since companies are continuously updating our gadgets and creating newer generations the public are more inclined to keep upgrading and adapting to the rapid change in technology. As these companies create “newer, faster, and better gadgets” people continue to want better because they believe something more efficient will eventually come out.

Social media platforms are very emancipatory as they allow users to provide personal information and express themselves with the ability to share it with the rest of the world. However, there are trade-offs to participating in the digital culture. For example, Twitter restricts users to 140 characters per tweet, also Facebook and Instagram only provide a ‘like’ button rather than love or dislike, they also only allow individuals to like something once.  Most websites have the ability to flag or take down anything that they feel is inappropriate, and they also give everyone the opportunity to report something that they feel is inappropriate too, which can then be taken down by the company. Also, I often tend to use online shopping websites, however they only allow discounts and sometimes the ability to shop on their website to individuals who like their page on Facebook. By doing this these companies are capable of posting what you have looked at on their website onto Facebook, which is free advertising for them as it exploits my use of the Internet. Even though Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc, are free they are still all profit driven, which occurs through the way they collect information from us as we use their networks. Critics have argued that our participation is equivalent to free labour because we are trading our personal information and developing new content with new users (Zeffiro, Week 6).

Schäfer, Mirko Tobias. “ Introduction” & “Chapter 1: Promoting Utopia/Selling Technology .” Bastard culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2011. 9-23, 24-39.

Is the personal political?

After reading articles provided for this week’s topic of planned technological obsolescence, it is most certain that our personal technology use is political for a few reasons. First, our need for the Internet has resulted in large corporations using diesel generators as precautions in case of a power outage. There are tens of thousands of data centers that exist and are used to store and process information. However they are not using this energy efficiently, rather they are wasting 90% of it, which is very harmful to the environment (Glanz). A study completed by the United Nations Solve E-Waste problem estimates that the amount of global electronic waste would increase by 33% from 49 million tons tracks in 2012 to over 65 million tons by 2017 (Glanz). Also, Amazon was cited with more then 24 violations over a three year period in Northern Virginia, which included running some of its generators without a basic environmental permit (Glanz). Large companies tend to not get severely penalized because of the amount of money they make, which is benefiting the government. Since we live in a Capitalist economy the government will keep as much as they can behind closed doors as long as it is benefiting them.

As explained in the Wall Street Journal article and the Light Bulb Conspiracy film, our planets technological consumption is largely affecting the world. Since large companies seduce people into always craving the newest models, people are constantly upgrading their electronics, yet we have nowhere to put the continuing amount of old ones. Instead we are dumping them into landfills in China, Pakistan, Nigeria, etc, which is now destroying their environment. Instead of keeping track of our large amount of consumption, large companies are continuing to quickly develop newer gadgets in order to make money without thinking about repercussions. Also, the Internet exists because of the large cables running across the ocean floor, which connect the continents (Blum). As more and more of these cables become full, we must put more into the ocean to keep up with the demand, which is costing large amounts of money and impacting our planet. That being said, our personal technological use is political as we have the choice to cut back and choose not to.  

The film, the Light Bulb Conspiracy is a documentary, which explores the occurrence of planned obsolescence. The film provides a few examples in which companies purposely design products to fail after a certain amount of time. For example, when nylons were first made they were said to be too sturdy, so designers had to go back and find a way to make the fibers weaker. Also, around the 1940’s a rule was enforced that light bulbs life span cannot be any longer then 1000 hours. Companies did this to ensure consumers would continue buying their product once they needed to be replaced (Dannoritzer). Another example is when Apple did not sell batteries separately, so if someone’s battery had broken they were to buy an entirely new product. Planned obsolescence can still be seen today when looking at the multiple generations of our gadgets (Iphone 4- Iphone 4S). As mentioned before, marketers try to seduce the public into always wanting the latest technology, in which people want to keep up to date with them. I believe if people were more educated with the issue maybe they would think twice about constantly replacing old technology when unnecessary, but then again people are brainwashed to conform to capitalism.   

Glanz, James. “Power, Pollution, and the Internet.” The New York Times. 22 Sept. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/technology/data-centers-waste-vast-amounts-of-energy-belying-industry-image.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=technology

Blum, Andrew. “A Dive Into the Digital Deep.” The Wall Street Journal. 25 May 2013

The Light Bulb Conspiracy. Dir: Cosima Dannoritzer.

 

Evolution of my Internet Interests

https://storify.com/kassmacadam93/my-history-with-the-internet

I first started using the Internet when I was around 8 or 9 years old, which is when everyone that age was playing on Neopets. This website allowed us to own virtual pets, in which we would play games for coins to tend to our pets. When I first was using the Internet I was only using it to play games, sometimes with my peers. As I got a little older, I started using MSN Messenger to communicate with my peers- it was almost like texting, but online. This was the first social networking site I became interested in and it was just as addicting as Facebook is today. I also had a stage where I used a website called Piczo that allowed me to create my own webpage. Around the same time I was using MSN I created a MySpace account, which a lot of my peers started doing as well. MySpace had the same idea as Facebook, but was not as progressive. In 2009 I created my Facebook, which I believe is an online scrapbook of my life. I still use Facebook, but during first year of university I joined Twitter. I tend to only use Twitter when I am bored and looking through all my social media networks. About a year ago I joined my favorite social media network, Instagram. I use it to share pictures and to look at my friend’s pictures that they have shared, in which I will like them. I have a few sites I use occasionally such as, Pinterest, We Heart It, TMZ, 8 Tracks, and streaming sites. I use these websites to browse for ideas, look at random photos, search for music, or watch TV shows. I also use the Internet on my phone to quickly access the weather, directions, or information I need at that time. The Internet has rapidly evolved as it now has multiple sites with specific purposes. However, majority of these sites allow users to share their content across each social media platform. The Internet has become a place where users can connect and share their content all over for others to see.

What do you meme?

Before reading articles regarding the Internet meme I didn’t know much about them only that they tend to be a mimicry using pictures and phrases that imitate a certain photo or video that was trending at that time. However, the technical definition claims, a meme is ” an image, video, piece of text, that is often altered in a humorous way, and spreads rapidly by Internet users (Web Definitions). Users tend to create memes to critique or make fun of something, usually whatever is trending at that time. For example, Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie was trending seconds after it was posted on the Internet and thousands of users started creating different memes mimicking the photo. Users share the meme across various social media platforms, and Facebook is generally one of the last places they end up.

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Kendzior defines memes as, “units of culture, which spread virally through commentary, imitations, and parody” (Kendzior). She describes them as a ‘participatory form of campaigning, in which gifs created by average people trump and subvert the propaganda of candidates’ (Kendzior). She claims that memes rely on constant awareness and participation, which ties into Gleick’s reading when he explains how ideas tend to breed and help evolve new ideas. Users feed off of each other’s ideas to make their own ideas, which creates the rapid spread of Internet memes. As Roger Sperry says, Ideas interact with each other and with other mental forces in the same brain, in neighboring brains, and thanks to global communication, in far distant, foreign brains (Gleick). The accessibility of the Internet makes it very easier for people to share their opinions and ideas for the rest of the world creating discussions.

Sarah Kendzior writes, “Memes create the illusion of participation in a political system from which people feel increasingly alienated, a system run on wealth that is incomprehensible to normal people”. With this statement, Sarah means that people, who are not directly associated with political parties or the upper elite groups, tend to use memes to feel as though they are ‘participating’ in the political world. Many of the Internet memes are based off of current events or trends, in which users alter them in a humorous or sarcastic way to express their point of view on the issue. So, when people do not understand or agree with the political system they use memes to participate. Although, people may feel like they are participating in politics when they generate memes, they are not making a difference like they would if they were to go to the polls to vote against whoever or whatever they disagree with.

Sarah agues that the power of the meme makes the public forget the real issue (Kendzior). I disagree with this argument because the internet is the quickest way to voice your opinion as it is so easy for users to access anything they want, when they want. Memes are an excellent way to do this because they are simple and get straight to the point rather then include multiple sentences. However, by posting it on the Internet this does not mean that people are going to do something about the issue, but they will continue to share it online. In most cases, going beyond the Internet does not fit into people’s busy schedules or they are only interested via computer. For example, when the issue of Kony kidnapping children in Uganda to build an army went viral many people shared articles, but out of that many only few actually tried to do something about it. However, I do believe that some people have the ability to use memes and the Internet to help change an issue, but it depends on how dedicated and compassionate the person is about the topic.

ImageMemes are very important to our culture because they allow individuals a chance to critique and express their opinions on whatever they want and share it across various social media networks. Memes can be viewed by as many people as want to view it, as many times as they want, and as quickly as they can request it (Davison, 123). Although, users can use Facebook or Twitter to express their opinions, a picture with fewer words will be noticed a lot quicker. Since memes are used as ways users can voice their opinion and they have the ability to quickly be shared it makes it easier for users to facilitate discussions and debates. The meme is an efficient way to spread awareness and voice your opinion to the public.

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Who has control?

Rosen’s idea of an “active audience” is similar to last week’s blog concerning the expansion of the Internet. The Internet allows users to communicate with people and gives them the chance to express themselves. In the article, The People Formerly Known as the Audience, author Jay Rosen, describes the audience as those who use to be on the receiving end of the media system that ran in one direction, while the rest of the public listened in isolation from one another (Rosen, 13). However, Rosen claims that the public, who are known as the audience, are not in the same situation today because there is now a balance of power between big media companies and us. For example, big media companies were the only ones capable of owning printing presses, radio stations, TV, news papers, etc, but now we are capable of publishing our own blogs, podcasting, editing and distributing videos (YouTube), and editing the news. We also have the choice to play our own IPods over the radio, watch what we want when we want, and avoid commercials on TV and the radio. However, not everybody has access to the types of technology that allows us to do this. In Bird’s article, Are We All Produsers Now, she expands on Rosen’s idea, but rather calls us “produsers”, in which she claims that the public has the opportunity to become producer’s instead of simply consumers (Bird, 502).

 I support Bird’s argument in which the audience has become produsers rather then just consumers. For example, there are multiple social media sites, as well as sites that allow you to share photos, videos, and interests (DIY), which are very easy to access. These websites allow you to communicate, discuss, create, and share your own ideas on the web with millions of other people. A good example of this is YouTube channels, which allows you to create your own channel and post your own videos. Also, most of these websites allow you to link your content across all of your social media platforms. For example, your Instagram or Twitter allows you to publish your photos or tweets onto Facebook. Also, on Facebook you are capable of sharing different links that contain articles, videos, or photos from other websites.

 Although, the power of media is slowly shifting into our hands, we are still very limited. Big media companies own majority of the platforms that we use in our daily lives, which still allows them to have some control over there functions. For example, Twitter allows you to write only 140 characters each tweet and Instagram only has a like button instead of a love, like, or dislike. I have seen people say they wish they could like the picture more than once! Also, if something were to be published in the paper or on the Internet that the upper elite did not agree with they have the power to take it down immediately. In most cases, this would only happen if the story or video affects the bourgeoisie in a negative way. Another good example, is the ‘terms of service’ or ‘copyright’ policies, which gives companies property of what is posted or the ability to unable anyone from making money off of them. By participating in all these social media platforms and posting content it is giving the media companies what they want, which is more and more users spending more time on their networks. In that case, if they give us a little bit of leeway we will accept and continue to use their products. Over all, we are still only are the audience, but today we just have more freedom.