Some call it an addiction: an unstoppable pandemic spreading among our young minds. I wouldn’t disagree. In the recent decades, the Internet took the world by storm, developing into a necessary commodity. Every average person learns to traverse it, and some have learned to live in it. But not all addictions lead to ruin. From the Internet pandemic sprouted dialects, communities and ideas, forming a subculture unlike any other: Internet culture.
A simple Google search on the effects of “Internet culture” produces an influx of articles pertaining to the perceived multiple harmful consequences of such lifestyle, ranging from the loss of social relationships and boundaries to the destruction of knowledge and beliefs, many of which are valid and significant details. Popular opinion has dominated the media, and the younger generations have adopted these beliefs in a widespread and spontaneous manner, drowning out dissenting voices. Privacy has become a myth, and personal information has become the most coveted currency among large private corporations.
However, these articles overlook and even condescend the truly unique communities and perspectives developed throughout the internet, apart from the turmoil and scrutiny of the non-digitized world and instead, through the common medium, the Internet. As a quite familiar YouTube recommended-page browser, I’ve specifically witnessed the far corners of the meme and gaming communities, which knit together a significant group through similar ways of thinking and of course, of language (Internet lingo). Here, online, people embrace anonymity amongst one another and confidently demonstrate their characters in coherence with the lighthearted cultures present. Yet most importantly, these communities create and adopt new meanings for themselves.
The meme community, particularly, demonstrates this quite significantly. Pepe the Frog, a familiar yet controversial character, has existed as a figurehead and symbol for as long as I can remember. His deformed, sad-looking face has been a tool of expression, like an emoji. However, currently, many politically progressives view him as a white supremacist symbol, an offensive taboo in the public eye. Yet, this declaration has not stopped or changed Pepe’s significance in the community, as we shouldn’t allow the white supremacists to get to define this symbol that has existed with great significance for others long before the racists “claimed” it. For those in the community, Pepe the Frog has existed and will always exist as a relatable, goofy character, despite the controversy others have placed on it. Internet culture, although often misunderstood and misrepresented, introduces a multitude of ideas, communities and meanings apart from the non-digitized world. It has allowed for the wide spread of independent communities that bind together various people under a small similar mode of thought. The Internet, although a pandemic, supplies an addiction, an addiction to connection, opinion, identity, and of course, entertainment.