PICK A MEME ANY MEME…And Then Pick It Apart

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The meme I chose uses the template of what is called the ‘First World Problems’ meme. It is an image of a woman with her eyes squeezed shut and tears rolling down her cheeks. It is important to notice that it is an emotional white woman chosen to represent a group of people who are very privileged. I think it would have been more accurate for the meme to show a white man, but there probably was not many pictures of distraught and emotional white men on the internet to choose from. This image is usually paired with a phrase that represents a ‘problem’ many people in Western society may complain about. While it is literal in the sense that some people do indeed get very upset over iPhone glitches and any technological inconvenience, the meme mocks how silly these “problems” sound in comparison to—as many say—‘children dying in Africa.’

The meme I chose has the text, ‘Went to the bathroom without my smartphone—Had to read the showergel label.’ The meme explores intertextual satire in the way that it uses sarcasm to expose people’s silly habits and guilty pleasures. It also uses interdexicality to comment on Western society’s dependence on technology and media. As a culture, we have almost become obsessed with being connected via social media as often as we can be. This meme pokes fun at the common practice of taking your phone to the bathroom with you to scroll Instagram, or play Candy Crush to pass the time.

Our brains are uncomfortable with calm now. While our mind and body might need us to unplug, we crave the stimuli of multi-tasking. I chose this meme because of its relevance to my life. I can no longer eat breakfast without also watching a show, or scrolling a blog. I cannot do my hair and makeup for the day without some music on in the background. The same goes for cooking, getting dressed, and even doing homework. I feel like I cannot simply do one thing, because my brain is so used to doing so many things at once, and if I am only doing one thing, I get bored or distracted! This meme also mocks something that a lot of people do, but never talk about. I have read all of the labels in my bathroom—more than once. For this meme to have become popular, many people must be able to relate to it. I would argue that the audience for this meme is anyone who, like me, is a little too attached to their mobile devices, and is able to make fun of themselves for it and enjoy the joke. The main demographic of this group is probably people 25 years old and younger, as these are the generations that have grown up listening to our iPods while doing homework and ‘googling it’ before ever opening a book. This meme works as a cultural artifact by it’s significance and relevance to this specific point in history, in which being media-obsessed and consciously aware of how meaningless the addiction is acknowledged as ‘first world problems.’

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