Meme Studies

A Meme is a Mirror, and When You Look Into It You See Yourself

LOLCats as culture barometers.
 A Meme is a Mirror, and When You Look Into It You See Yourself

(knowyourmeme.com)

“Are LOLCats Making Us Smarter?” asks a link-baity Atlantic headline that actually has nothing to do with the article it accompanies. The short answer: No, but that didn’t stop the Atlantic from writing a think piece about memes anyway.

As a graduate of NYU’s Gallatin school, where students design their own bizarre, mostly pretentious majors, this reporter is not really surprised that people are now writing dissertations about the cultural impact of LOLCats. After all, hasn’t social media researcher Danah Boyd essentially built an entire career around intellectualizing Internet topics otherwise deemed too 4chan-ish?

Enter Kate Miltner, a graduate of the London School of Economics, who penned her masters thesis on the rise of memes, and what the Internet’s penchant for weird cat pictures says about The Way We Live Now.

Writes the Atlantic:

According to Miltner, “When it came to LOLCats, sharing and creating were often different means to the same end: making meaningful connections with others.” At their core LOLCats weren’t about those funny captions, the weird grammar, or the cute kitties, but people employed those qualities in service of that primary goal of human connection.

Because nothing says “Screw you, loneliness!” like an image macro of a condescending Willy Wonka.

But really, we’re kind of jealous of Ms. Miltner’s academic pursuits. If only we had thought to use Reddit as legitimate source material in college. Guess we’ll just have to stick to using Blurtt to communicate entirely through memes.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com

Comments

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