LISA DE KLERK

The internet is now one of the main ways of curing boredom. Entire websites exist solely for providing users with images, gifs or videos that will make them laugh, cringe or otherwise add to their much-varied repertoire of internet catch phrases and cultural concepts. These concepts gain popularity  from being shared on blogs, emails and social networking sites. Thus, “internet memes” are born. This week, Perdeby braved the blogosphere to determine your Rad vs Sad.

RAD!

Demotivational posters. These spoofs of motivational posters have been doing the rounds since 1998. The posters typically depict a centred image, bordered in black, with a title written in capital letters and a witty tagline below. Originally credited to the web company Despair Inc., internet users adopted the concept and began churning out their own versions by the thousands. They’re designed to weaken self-esteem or discourage moral strength … in a, er, funny way. Despair Inc. (and various other websites) now provide a Demotivator Generator on their web page, as well as demotivational videos and T-shirts. In case you’re still lost, a model example of a demotivator features an image of Snookie from MTV’s Jersey Shore with the caption: “White trash … now comes in orange.”

Sad Panda. If you haven’t read or heard the words “this makes me a sad panda”, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. The phrase dates all the way back to a 1999 episode of South Park, in which Mr Garrison’s class is introduced to Sexual Harassment Panda. Whenever Sexual Harassment Panda describes incidents of sexual harassment, he emphatically declares why this makes him a “sad panda”. These days, anything from failing an exam to being out of milk constitutes being a “sad panda” on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The catch phrase has even leaked into demotivational posters, and it seems every panda captured on film acquires a “sad panda” caption once it hits the net. At least these adorable endangered bears are getting some viral attention. Now, let’s see what we can do for “sad Arakan Forest Turtle”.

Charlie Sheen rant. After Two and a Half Men actor Charlie Sheen’s infamous radio and television interviews in late February 2011, cyberspace exploded with parodies and images containing some of his controversial comments. Sheen went so far as to call the show a “pukefest that everyone worships”, and denounced Alcoholics Anonymous. The actor is notoriously struggling with substance abuse, and the follow-up interviews only led him further downhill. After joining Twitter on 1 March, phrases such as “tigerblood” and “winning!” started trending. Now YouTube is abuzz with remixes and parodies of the interviews (there’s even a dubstep version) and jokes flood emails, status updates and even previously established memes. If this isn’t enough, there’s a website that generates a new Sheen quote every time you refresh it – LiveTheSheenDream.com. Winning!

SAD!

Rebecca Black’s “Friday”. Amateur YouTube musician, Rebecca Black, currently holds the record for the most dislikes on a viral video for her single “Friday”. That would be 2 750 237 dislikes. Just to put things into perspective, Justin Bieber’s “Baby” stands at 1 353 048 dislikes. The 13-year-old’s mother paid ARK Music Factory for a song recording and an accompanying video. The recording label made mince meat out of Black’s voice by overusing the pitch-correcting software Auto-Tune, and further destroyed her life by making her sing Patrice Wilson’s lyrics. Huh? Patrice who? The “rapper” in the Friday video. Yes, an adult is responsible for writing: “Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday / Today it is Friday, Friday / …  / Tomorrow is Saturday / And Sunday comes afterward.”

The reaction that followed after the video turned viral was intense. Black has repeatedly complained about “cyber-bullying” and death threats. Groups have cropped up on Facebook thanking Black for teaching them the “days of the week”, even singling out the unidentified co-stars in the video as “that awkward dancing girl” or “the twelve-year-old who stole a convertible to pick up Rebecca Black on Friday”. The music industry has also reacted. A clip surfaced on the net of Katy Perry cheekily covering “Friday” at one of her shows, counting “fun, fun, fun, fun” off on her fingers.

 YouTube parodies include the disturbing “Friday in Hell” remix, in which Black’s voice is extremely slowed down and the images freakishly distorted, and “Sunday”, which was created by the Community Christian Church in Illinois and features the pastor’s daughter, Sadie B. All Perdeby can say is: it’s a blessing that that little girl’s parents thought to disable comments – Rebecca has been made an example of.

LOL Cats. It’s unclear exactly how long LOL Cats have been roaming the internet, but what is clear is that they’re getting old. Yes, cats are adorable. No, you do not need to take a photo of your cat every time it leaps in the air, sleeps, eats, sits on something or looks adorable; and caption it. You don’t need to dress up your poor cat or stick a beer can between their paws for the purpose of humiliating them on the internet. It’s also become clear that LOL Cats generators think cats can’t spell or that they speak as if they are mentally-impaired: “Hy cann has foodz?” or “Waayt! Hugz befo you go?” Enough said.

Trolling. Trolling is when a person states something on a social-network platform with the sole intention of stirring up controversy or annoying others. Seasoned networkers will recognise a troll and avoid responding because trolls thrive on angry reactions. Trolls will even use poor grammar and spelling just to provoke a dispute. An illustrated “troll face” is now also part of the game and is used in many comics and mash-ups. If you’re wondering why anyone would want to be a troll, what pleasure they derive from trolling, or why people enjoy manipulating the emotions of complete strangers – so are we. Though memes are born from “wasting time”, this is the epitome of time wasting.

Image: Mpho Tsuari

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