Wait a second while I close down a couple open tabs in my browser. I need a clean slate to begin…
I’ve been noticing a discouraging trend. Let me set the stage: Currently, we are on in the throws of 1 billion more people coming online. (mainly by cell phones) We are also greatly advanced in artificial intelligence not yet in accordance with our lives. The ‘Internet of Things’ is still a colloquialism more than reality.
Example: When my almond milk container is at its lightest 1/4 cup, my refrigerator does not yet automatically order it from Amazon Prime Grocery. I still must make this decision myself. But when I go to Amazon and search any item, all of the sudden ads for said item are all over everything I read. Our entire internet life is still greatly distracting, despite the ad blocker programs. (they all suck) You see, our online behavior is self-fulfilling but the artificial intelligence is not as predetermining as it will be. And the reason I bring up A.I. in conjunction with more people headed online is because the distractions will only grow. The ads which know you and want you…like infinite open tabs. And I don’t mean at the bar…
Suppose this is the only thing going on online. Our interest, what we read, what we want, what we research = old news. The footprints have been lain. The internet trend which has me pensive is the current use of gifs and memes. Why I think in matters in accordance with IoT: they are watering down intelligent journalism in the way a person using excessive profanity waters down their own intelligence.
And if you’re looking for the difference between GIFs and Memes, quick hint: GIFs typically take clips from movies, or television shows where as memes make a topical or culture reference. Or, to be more specific: GIFs always do. Memes are typically static, though they move on occasion. So, the animated clips from Friends are GIFs, and the static images with huge font are memes. That’s as direct explanation as you’ll ever get. Source
The reason they’re so popular is because they are easy. Easy to understand and easy to share. For a moment we all collectively nod in agreement or mutual understanding. (supposing the viewer is culturally in tune to the theme-topic being referenced) They’re used to explain with little explanation, similar to how an occasional cuss word can really serve home the mood or context without any other adjectives. Yes, I get the F’n point! Yet in the way constant profanity has a counter-effect -the person is seen as unhinged and trashy, so do memes and gifs present themselves. They’ve become a lazy cop-out. And are now often used as the byline and attention grabber.The reason this is detrimental is because the grabs for our attention are not about to thin out.
Gifs and memes are the visual bombs of the internet. They’re an abbreviated way to communicate both as a result of current trends to abbreviate and our short attention spans in a landscape of abundance. We just wanna know without delving too deep.
Who doesn’t love visuals though? All advertising and packaging is based off visuals. Images serve to break up the monotony of long form writing. Even the most basic ‘How to Blog’ google search says emphatically, always include a picture in your post. (I’m not a food or fashion blog lady! get off my ass) One of my favorite long form investigative writers uses stick figure images. They are worse than rudimentary, but that’s his niche. His writing speaks for itself. It’s just now, even reputable news sources such as Marketplace are implementing them. Being used way too haphazardly, how well are the visuals serving us when it’s often only the meme or gif going viral minus the story or journalism attached to it? Do any of us like our words taken out of context? But this is what ALL mainstream media has become. I am no defender of Donald Trump, but if you already dislike him, you aren’t reading any explanation or entirety of context surrounding anything he has said. And hopping from catchy byline to gif or meme or soundbite is the equivalent of being a dumbass. That is what I’m saying. It’s innocent, but it’s not. We’re adults passed the age of picture books, yet we’ve regressed back into pictures and images for story. Sure they serve to make us feel like we all ‘get it’, but how much are we really getting? It hasn’t been great for journalism. Like cuss words aren’t great for speaking. And more people online with more artificial intelligence trying to get in tune with us, what do you think this means in the long term…
Are we being served up gold or coal? Stars or dust…
Click-bait and provocative bylines have been winning the real info wars online, not the truth and facts. Memes and gifs further solidify the desire to catch on to things while passing by. The internet super highway is really fast and few people want to linger. Pop culture is transient and superfluous. Completely inconsequential. Yet all news wants to straddle the line between entertainment and information. The political arena has certainly demoralized reporting in all parts of the world, not just the U.S. Thus, I’m becoming weary of the entire pseudo-information via search engine landscape of the internet. Do you think our trust will grow or it’ll get easier to siphon through? (rhetorial)
Bringing this back full circle:
While implementing A.I. for seamless living, are we simultaneously dumbing ourselves down by removing all the easy decisions? Millenials have already rebelled against cursive writing and now communicate more in abbreviation and emoji. Lack of maturity and impatience go hand-in-hand, so I can’t say how their communication will change. Their fast-and-now mentality is perfectly set up to live in a hyper-efficient world though. Who needs directions, just tell the car where you are going. Who needs the grocery store? My kitchen just placed an order. Online reporting is behaving similarly. I don’t have to explain it well, if you can visually see what I mean. [insert meme] I don’t have to literally spell it out, if you could just understand it. [insert emoji or gif]
Of course what we tend towards is driven by personal proclivity and education levels, so being bombarded by cultural images might not apply to you; it’s still a daunting moment to be online.
This post may come off as ‘old lady screams get off her lawn’, or make little sense trying to combine cussing, AI, gifs, and memes into one post, but they are concurrent. And this is how my brain jumps around while seeing synchronicity in all of it, too.
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Gary Johnson (3rd party presidential nominee) gave Aleppo attention, and people are looking up ‘what’s a leppo?’ Ugh. Proof people aren’t reading but catching soundbites.
Why Do We Love to Curse so Much? I do say ‘dammit’ a lot, but honestly I only ever cuss when I’m driving. Admittedly I look down upon it. You know I’m choosey about words, and there are too many good ones. Also, they’re often used in anger or frustration, so hearing them causes me anxiety, truthfully.
The Pot-Belly of Ignorance As consistently eating junk food leads to girth, so does consuming junk news and scattered soundbites leads to a dumb brain
I Used To Be a Human Being “An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too.”
Intelligence is our most precious resource. –Sam Harris
I had to include my favorite: Ron Swanson throwing out the computer!