It’s finally happened.
You did not plan for it, as you can’t, but you always knew it was a possibility.
You have entered into the realm of Meme!
Here is what to do next:
You have no control over this. The more you struggle, the more likely it is that you will suffer or become upset. Your image has been taken out of your control. It has entered into one of the new forms of communication, one of the new languages. This one often has no clear author, no beginning, and no end. It is best to acknowledge it, but also to move on without dwelling on it.
What I mean here is don’t post something angry about it, even if you are (I am genuinely not upset; I consider it part of the territory I choose to move around in and inhabit). Kurt Cobain despaired over his band getting out of his control in terms of who made up Nirvana fans; I still consider his statement in the liner notes of the Insecticide compilation an important one. This conflicted attitude is on full display when the band “played” their breakout hit on Top of the Pops in 1991. In contrast, on the same show, in 1994, Beck treated performing his hit song “Loser” like weird karaoke. This was his attitude about the song’s surprise success as his career progressed. I think the latter mentality is the only way to survive the 21st Century.
I have had a long-standing back and forth conversation with a friend, started at the beginning of the Internet era, about whether or not to follow a code of conduct while online. He contended that you could do anything you want on the Internet, no rules, all fun, so do whatever you want all the time! You know… ITS DUMB JUST COME HAVE FUN, like Shrek Rave. I contended that everything you did on the Internet could and would be potentially held against you in a court of law, or, more likely, in the court of public opinion. A digital panopticon. So, it was wise to be very intentional in what you did in that space.
The next time we pick up our long-standing debate, I am curious to see where we both stand. The balance is so tricky; it is best to know what you can and cannot control. I have definitely softened my view and he may have modified his.
Either way, to assign good or bad to Internet chaos is unwise. Chaos does not care. Memes are ungovernable. To seek deep meaning or significance in them is a mistake. They are omnipresent and disposable as a box of tissues.
But I did anyway. Will the column add “heat” to the meme? Probably not. Will the column seem like a lame move? I am 48 years old, so lameness is my lane. Will addressing it via the column be making too big a deal out of it? Probably, to some.
The main thing is that it happened. I saw it, got the joke (I am notoriously punctual), laughed. What happens next with any meme, major or minor, inside joke or globally recognized, is unwritten.
Chaos reigns. Thank you, Bill Grates. Thank you, Michaelsoft.