Opinion

Cameron’s Corner: The Great Meme War


We live in an age of information. Bombarded by opinion, narrative, conjecture and diatribe in various forms of a 24-hour news cycle, hell you can even choose which 24-hour news cycle you want to digest. It extends beyond news however; it’s the relentless attack on our senses, and the next best thing to whatever we have in our hands. That’s the way of it all isn’t it, the methodology for which our modern world and economy tick by?
In years past the concept of espionage was very real, and it still is to a great degree, but the way our society handles information is different. The concept of smart-devices like TV’s, phones, newer model computers and tablets, the fact that these devices are designed to listen in on your daily conversation to glean what it can in hopes you will possibly be looking for that item online. Just the other day I mentioned the need for swim lessons for my young children to my mother over the phone, a day later I saw swim-lesson advertisements and deals for child swimwear over the walls of my personal social media. That’s something else isn’t it?
It is something else. The idea of a device, let alone more than one per person on average, that listens to you so long as its charged, people like George Orwell and Ray Bradbury spoke about the dire consequences of such. But here we are as a society yelling our personal lives out onto the interwebs with Echoes, Alexas, Siris and Googles. Giving some ominous networks of bots, businesses and bytes a trail of clues to what our heart’s desire.
A meme (I say “mayme,” you can say whatever you like), is a quick thought, a jot of culture that cuts through the horse manure of a subject, down to its brass tacks. Often accompanied by an image to conjure up a feeling of irony, apathy, sadness or laughter. I’ve noticed one thing about a meme, people in our society tend to look at them square in the face, more often then not a meme can infer a concept far too complex for most to completely understand, but here they are looking at only the seams and not the garment.
Not long ago, during the midst of the ‘kneeling-NFL’ issue I started to see a great deal of memes that were designed to do what they do best, elicit a quick-witted emotional response. It didn’t matter what was right, the wrongs were just as right to the ones who posted them. You had veterans saying they fought for someone’s right to kneel during the anthem, and you had a meme-front suggesting a totalitarian response to those players wishing to take a knee. One thing that makes our country a social model is our right to peaceful protest, this concept of kneeling for the state goes against our fabric of personal freedoms.
Recently it came out during the ongoing investigation into potential Russian involvement of the 2016 presidential election that data centers in places like St. Petersburg and Moscow employed thousands of online-agents to create proverbial havoc using tools designed for cultural manipulation. Creating various bot profiles on message boards like Reddit, 4Chan, Facebook groups, Google Plus and more, posting memes that serve to bring a topic to its extreme within the modern American narrative.
With an ability for data centers to be able to take advantage of and purchase things like advertising and venues to put these types of concepts directly into the hands and living rooms of nearly every American citizen, things that serve to divide than unify, meticulously crafted to do so… a salivating concept for an international competitor.
The meme war is real folks, and its casualties are our freedoms, like any war.