I was sitting at dinner with a few friends of mine, most of them Masters students who have excellent communications skills. They were all talking about something. On closer inspection, I realized that most of what they were talking about was the topic of the single most important communication revolution of this generation – the Internet. To be specific, they were talking about two things, memes and Facebook. I pointed out a few lines ago that most of them had excellent communication skills. The importance of that is the vocabulary in use in the conversation. They were talking about “liking” things and getting the best pic so that it can be their next “profile pic”. They were talking about flying cats and Loki-bashing memes. It seemed that all of these people were talking more in terms of Facebook features and popular memes instead of that once popular language, English.
Who am I to talk about this? I’m as much a part of this meme culture as anyone else. But some times I worry about why simple English is being replaced by Internet lingo in dinner tables across the world. Or maybe that’s not the case? Maybe I’m looking at a group of highly educated individuals who wish to break free from the rigid language-sensitive world of academic papers and presentations and the best way to let off some steam is by using some bad language and talking in some silly and distorted lingo. I certainly hope that’s the case because otherwise the world is doomed to one day just talk in terms of “like”, “comment” and “forever alone”. This does not bode well for expression. Because drawing cartoons and using lingo to accommodate original thought is a good idea as long as the cartoons themselves are originals. A few building blocks can easily form millions of complex structures but they are, in fact, limited by the types of building blocks to begin with.
What’s worse is that the force of Facebook and memes is so strong that it is changing the way the whole Internet interacts. The original game changing communication medium is now being forced into careful coercion by a social network and a silly set of characters adapted from 4chan. I can only hope that another tide brings some other social network into the lime light and that one will not be forced to define a person’s image with a “cover photo” alone.