Anatomy of a Meme: From Inside Joke to Viral Celebrity

Though memes have made their way into mass culture, they will likely remain more surprise than science.

There was a time when Internet memes were relegated to the depths of message boards like 4chan, existing only as offbeat inside jokes between a niche user base. Today you may find it difficult to avoid seeing the meme du jour sprawled across your Facebook wall, your Instagram feed, your TV screen in a Good Morning America segment, and more commonly, in branded messaging.

Social media has irrevocably changed the way people are able to share and access content online, facilitating the delivery mechanism for meme driven internet culture. And while some memes seem to appear out of nowhere, approaching critical mass in the blink of an eye, the road to fleeting internet fame can be quite cyclical.

We’ve reverse engineered a few examples of pictorial memes, here’s how they evolved…

The origins of memes are a mixed bag. Many times a meme is a remixed version of an innocuously shared personal photo. Other times a meme uses a still from a video –– anything from a “New New Hollywood” YouTube sensation to a decade old Bjork music video. Where a meme comes from seems to be irrelevant, as long as it possess a specific voice. In particular, it needs a specific voice that can be properly developed and expanded upon by other users as they remix and recreate.

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The Future of Sex is Buried in the Sock Drawer

The future of sex is here, or at least it could be, technically speaking.

The future of sex is here, or at least it could be, technically speaking. In an age when autonomous cars are trolling about Nevada Highways, bipedal robots are hobbling around research institutions, and octocopters take to the skies, it seems absurd that reliable teledildonics and other forms of robotic (or tech-enabled long distance) sex don’t exist. Sure, we’ve seen examples like Real Touch and surprisingly advanced tech for a very niche Japanese maid game, but the kind of objects that don’t live ashamedly in drawers and dungeons, but proudly in a prototypical home don’t quite exist. This is not a technological problem, but a social one. We’re not ready yet. America is not ready yet.

You would think that a country like ours, one so proudly monogamous, so invested in being faithful, one that fervently promotes family units, would also be invested in the idea of using technology to help maintain those values. But in spite of it all, sex toys can’t quite seem to shake their XXX truck stop image. For many, these toys remain blushed secrets, quarantined to the back of the nightstand. For others, the connection to pornography is so deep that owning any device would be unimaginable. 

That’s not to say things aren’t changing. Certainly in the 90s the Rabbit shook up norms, and more recently, ultra-designed toys from outfits like Jimmyjane have changed conceptions. In some circles, these have become luxury objects, but this is not a ubiquitous norm. 

Perhaps what has to change first is the conception regarding what is human and what is robotic. 

This will most likely evolve as wearable technology moves to ingestibles, along with new forms of prosthetics, and even future-forward methods of conception. Perhaps, when we’re unsure about whether or not we’re human or robotic, then we’ll be more comfortable with the idea of a sexual present that’s also technological. This may seem out there, but as medicine advances in step with tech, such philosophical questions will arise much faster we anticipate.

Ultimately though, what may be holding things back is the simple nature of the bedroom. That is, even in our age of sharing and selfies and a quick ascent towards lifelogging, the bedroom (and bathroom) remain surprisingly insulated from the rest of the world. We catch snippets of other’s experiences in passing conversation or maybe a fleeting Snapchat, but the majority of our understanding of sex is either mediated or remarkably private. Sex and bedroom norms are developed through one-on-one moments, a chain of them, and even the occasional ménage à trois. Sex is markedly individual, not communal. In other words, the way we share sexual cultural data looks a lot more linear than the way we might share food culture or fashion norms.

This means that where innovation and evolution in the sex world is concerned, there’s a notable lag when compared to mainstream tech. There will still be pornographic advancement and adoption of new ideas for pleasure and shock, but when it comes to the future living in the bedrooms of modest, middle-of-the-road Americans, we’ve still got a long way to go.

Nate Graham is a Cultural Strategist at sparks & honey, a next generation agency that helps brands synchronize with culture. Follow us on Twitter at @sparksandhoney to stay up to date on the latest high energy trends.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

On Data Horticulture

“The last decade has been about sharing. The next decade will be about protecting.” - Dave 
Pell.

“The last decade has been about sharing. The next decade will be about protecting.” - Dave 
Pell.

If there’s anything that this summer’s revelations about government eavesdropping, spying, and surveillance have taught the world it’s that we are truly inseparable from our data. Our personal data is growing exponentially, and it’s something we will all eventually need to wrangle with. We’ve moved from a world where 1% of the population creates content to one where 100% of the population creates data. It’s a world that necessitates an active understanding of our digital footprints, not just for personal brand management, professional SEO, and better online experience, but most importantly for security.

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What's the Future of the Sharing Economy?

Where is the Collaborative Economy heading and what value will it bring to business, brands and customers of the future? 

The Sharing Economy is a topic that has been garnering a lot of attention lately -- from startups embracing the collaborative model to consumers embracing the age old “sharing is caring” philosophy when it comes to vacation rentals, like AirBnB, or transportation solutions like NYC’s Citibike or Zipcar. We at sparks & honey have seen real value in the sharing economy trend as of late and recently partnered with global digital agency, Tribal Worldwide, to host the Collaborative Economy Summit, in which we set out to gather thought leaders in this space an answer one simple question -- where is the Collaborative Economy heading and what value will it bring to business, brands and customers of the future? 

Turns out we learned a few more interesting things along the way. Here are three key takeaways that emerged from the Summit:

  • Sharing isn't new: Sharing is human nature and has been around since the beginning of time. So, what is new about the sharing, or collaborative, economy and why is this an important exponential shift? Today, we have sophisticated platforms that allow for instant sharing, like super-fast mobile devices that allow for sharing from any location and online payment systems that allow for quick, online transactions. The combination of these factors allow for sharing at scale and across boundaries. A global, scalable sharing platform is allowing for the emergence of an unexplored economy. It has been driven by tech startups in its infancy, but is ultimately moving from an emerging model to one that is adopted by the masses. The Collaborative Economy is currently where social media was 10 years ago and this new economic model will no doubt continue to build momentum and disrupt most industries in the years to come, just as social did.

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