I had an opportunity to talk with my friend’s 15 year old son this weekend and discovered something fairly disturbing: Many heroes from my childhood have been forgotten, or now live in a bastardized version of their former glory. Replacing them now are the internet memes that have exploded in popularity thanks to sites like Youtube.
Gangnam Style? Check. Harlem Shake? You betcha. Epic Meal Time? “Oh man that’s hilarious”. And then out of curiosity, I asked him about Popeye, the barely coherent sailor that parents used to con their children into eating spinach. A confused look followed quickly by a resounding “Who?” took me by surprise.
Here was an individual who had never experienced the jovial spinach powered sailor that was most likely the victim of a stroke or two and his wacky adventures. When it seems like everyone over the age of 12 has a smartphone, internet memes are passed around like antibiotics at a college clinic. Unfortunately this means that without a painful reboot (I’m looking at you He-Man) classics are fading into obscurity.
It’s not all bad. With Youtube being one of the most popular sites on the internet, old clips that once lived on a worn VHS in someone’s basement are now available for the world to see. Want to find that awkward cartoon you saw in 7th grade human sexuality? You might be surprised to find it available. It also might say something about you that you’re trying to find that cartoon in the first place. It’s also becoming harder to hide that from your friends.
Self-proclaimed “social media experts” have been pushing companies to increase integration across services. This means that websites are encouraging you to sign in with your Facebook log in information, which it then in turn uses to advertise itself on your profile automatically. For those who click “agree” faster than rise and fall of an MTV star, this often means they are surprised to see what applications or services have been posting on their activity feed.
Things are quickly becoming more invasive as Facebook begins to roll out its new system to charge fees to send messages to people you don’t have any connections with. It makes you wonder whether or not we were better off relegated to watching reruns of the spinach swilling sailor when it came on the TV.