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“It Me,” You and Everyone We Know: A Look at the Web’s Most Ambiguous Meme

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Enter the meme simply known as “it me.” On Twitter, “it me” often accompanies a selfie, a quoted headline or images from the web. Usually used as a punchline to a joke, the set-up to “it me” jokes are consistent: a mortifying, self-deprecating, factual or quirky image or statement. Or sometimes, though this is rare, a pun.

…My friend Sarah Hagi thinks “it me” is often used as a deflective tool, “For example, people don’t really believe mercury’s in retrograde, it’s just another way to pin how you feel on something else.” In that sense, “it me” functions as ironic humor. There’s a deflective quality to ironic humor. It masks the truth, though not the whole truth, revealing only a sliver of reality.

We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs

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If you’ve never heard of the term before, “digital blackface” is used to describe various types of minstrel performance that become available in cyberspace. Blackface minstrelsy is a theatrical tradition dating back to the early 19th century, in which performers “blacken” themselves up with costume and behaviors to act as black caricatures. The performances put society’s most racist sensibilities on display and in turn fed them back to audiences to intensify these feelings and disperse them across culture.

 

… For while reaction GIFs can and do every feeling under the sun, white and nonblack users seem to especially prefer GIFs with black people when it comes to emitting their most exaggerated emotions. Extreme joy, annoyance, anger and occasions for drama and gossip are a magnet for images of black people, especially black femmes.

Now, I’m not suggesting that white and nonblack people refrain from ever circulating a black person’s image for amusement or otherwise (except maybe lynching photos, Emmett Till’s casket, and videos of cops killing us, y’all can stop cycling those, thanks). There’s no prescriptive or proscriptive step-by-step rulebook to follow, nobody’s coming to take GIFs away. But no digital behavior exists in a deracialized vacuum. We all need to be cognizant of what we share, how we share, and to what extent that sharing dramatizes preexisting racial formulas inherited from “real life.” The Internet isn’t a fantasy — it’s real life.

The Danger of Convenience

Post image for The Danger of Convenience

Excerpt from this article:

The other day I saw an ad for Google Home which, even five years ago, could have passed for their annual April Fool’s joke. (You can see it here.)

A woman is getting comfortable on a couch, as a friendly voiceover relates a supposedly-common dilemma:

“You know when you’ve got Chinese takeout on your chest, and the blanket around your feet, and then you realize the remote is on the other side of the couch? Just say ‘Hey Google, play Stranger Things!’”

I appreciate ease and convenience (and Stranger Things) as much as anyone else. We should be grateful to have access to ingenious devices that relieve us from having to do laundry in a stream, heat water by the potload over a fire, and other laborious, dangerous, and time-consuming tasks.

But when we’re also employing futuristic devices to do the easiest imaginable things, we’re probably making our lives worse. How convenient do we want things to be, really? Would we eliminate all bodily movement if it were possible?

Teenagers are growing more anxious and depressed

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There may be plenty of analogue reasons for it. “A number of things are pretty unique to young people today. They were born around when the Columbine shooting happened, they were kids for 9/11, they were kids during one of the worst recessions in modern history,” says Nicole Green, the executive director of Counselling and Psychological Services at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has seen demand for her office’s services from college undergraduates surge.

A big new study suggests a different explanation for teenage melancholy—the many hours young people spend staring at their phone screens. That might be having serious effects, especially on young girls, according to the study’s author, Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and author of  “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy”.

By scrutinising national surveys, with data collected from over 500,000 American teenagers, Ms Twenge found that adolescents who spent more time on new media—using Snapchat, Facebook, or Instagram on a smartphone, for instance—were more likely to agree with remarks such as: “The future often seems hopeless,” or “I feel that I can’t do anything right.” Those who used screens less, spending time playing sport, doing homework, or socialising with friends in person, were less likely to report mental troubles.