I love internet memes. I think that’s an important kind of love to have. It encompass some of the best aspects of being alive: deep belly laughs, getting excited about something new, and having in-jokes you can text your friends about.
The day that I learned about The Human Centipede was one of the best-worst days of my life. All day there was an electric buzz in the air as my friend and I passed a Macbook back and forth trying to read the Wikipedia article through shielded fingers and squealing with delight/disgust.
The horror was unending. How could something so gross actually exist? It was so hard to think about the images that were stained into my brain. But, my friend comforted me with a saying we have, “every meme dies.” This means that no matter how horrible I felt about my polluted mind, at some point in the future I’d forget about it completely.
Cut to two years later. A friend asked me “have you heard Rebecca Black Friday?”
“I am so jealous of you.”
“Because you get to experience this for the first time.”
She proceeded to sit me down and show me the cinematic marvel that is the Rebecca Black Friday video. From the very first chorus I knew this was going to be a big deal. I accurately predicted that when I was out the following Friday, drunks all around would be screaming “Partying, Partying, YEAH!” at each other. Nothing brings strangers together like a good, juicy meme.
But by this time, there was a little knot in my excitement. My joy at discovering what would surely be a huge cultural phenomenon was tinged with existential despair. The entire time I was enjoying Rebecca Black, I knew that one day this meme, too, would die.
It’s the bleakest way to view life, I guess, to be aware of mortality even in the most trivial, superficial circumstances. Being aware of endings at beginnings help manage your expectations, but it takes a lot of youthful joy away–thinking that you can be at the climax of excitement forever.
The window to live life without being aware of your own mortality is small.
It’s why we love stories in all the forms they come in: books, movies, gossip and Snooki. It’s an escape from the existential voice reminding us of all our life anxieties. Getting engrossed in something, being excited about something, forgetting your troubles because of these things is a temporary blessing. Every meme dies, so it’s important to embrace them as much as possible in the present.