There once was a time when, to enjoy an inside joke shared with friends, you actually needed to share an event in their company. These secret experiences started just like any other, until the roar of laughter came after something only your group could appreciate. For instance, when the lone guy in your office dead seriously uses the term “super cute” in a sentence. In the early days of inside jokes, you’d have to be in the presence of those who shared the comical occurrence to continue to give the incident legs. But now that the geniuses over at Facebook have discovered there are only 3.5 degrees of Kevin Bacon between us, we can all be in on the joke. All 1.59 billion of us actively using the social media platform, that is. And the inside joke of choice among virtual “friends?” The Internet meme.
In short, an Internet meme is a cultural item spread virally from person to person via the Internet. The most typical mediums for these items are images, videos or phrases. The most popular memes typically take the form of an image with a witty caption. Through these pithy commentaries churned out in droves by companies, celebrities, strangers, family members and friends from lives past, we now have a new lens – an even quicker way to make snap judgments about those populating our news feeds.
When I come across a meme of Kermit the Frog sipping a steaming cup of tea surrounded by text mocking the political or moral choices of others and ultimately deciding, “But, it’s none of my business,” I realize that the drama kid I had pre-calculus with in high school, the woman who shared the meme and I now have an inside joke. Not only are we irked by the same ethical hypocrisies, we also find the same note of sarcasm amusing.
Beyond pointing out the obvious bond between myself and drama girl, I now realize that I actually have a lot in common with a lot of people. There is an army of Kims larger than I ever imagined: people across the globe laughing at the same memes aimed at mocking pretentious celebrities, dog shaming, catching stupid human tricks in action, busting swearing news anchors, exposing the corrupt moral code of pop culture icons, appreciating Fridays and so on and so forth.
So, the next time you feel alone in this now very small world, whip up a quick meme and strike a bond that only an inside joke can create with both friend and foe on your Facebook feed … but, that’s none of my business.
- Kim MacKenzie