Blog | Apr 20, 2012 | 8 Comments

[the young and the restless online]

Have you ever been rickrolled? Can you generate memes? Do you download mashups? Don’t worry if none of this makes sense. It just means you’re old.

Everything I know about fun on the Internet, I learned from my kids.

One of my twenty-something daughters lives with me. She’s is a geek, and loves to show me what younger people like to do online. I selected some common and (mostly) innocuous ideas to share with you non-Millennials. If I have any Millennial readers, I’m sure you’ll be amused by my naïveté.

It all started with 4chan.

I learned about 4chan at SXSW Interactive last year when I heard a talk by its founder. 4chan is the Wild, Wild West of the Internet. It claims to be a “simple image-based bulletin board where anyone can post comments and share images,” but it’s more like the badass daddy of Pinterest. It’s a place where you need a rule like this:

Do not post the following outside of /b/: Trolls, flames, racism, off-topic replies, uncalled for catchphrases, macro image replies, indecipherable text (example: “lol u tk him 2da bar|?”), anthropomorphic (“furry”), grotesque (“guro”), or l-li/sh-ta p-rn-graphy.

I wanted to look up that last item but was afraid to enter the terms on Google, and even changed the spelling of the words on the advice of my daughter, who didn’t want my blog showing up in a search for them. Anyway, according to Wikipedia:

The site’s “Random” board is by far its most popular and notorious feature. Known as “/b/”, there are minimal rules on posted content. Gawker once jokingly claimed that “reading /b/ will melt your brain”.

I’m guessing that one visit to 4chan may be all you ever need.

Rickrolling is passé now, but you have to know what it is.

Again, Wikipedia knows everything:

Rickrolling is an Internet meme involving the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up“. The meme is a bait and switch; a person provides a hyperlink seemingly relevant to the topic at hand, but actually leads to Astley’s video. The link can be masked or obfuscated in some manner so that the user cannot determine the true destination of the link without clicking. Persons led to the music video are said to have been rickrolled.

Here is one of the most famous rickrolls of all time:

Even the president is not immune from this phenomenon: BarackRoll.

However, I got a warning from my daughter: “Most people don’t think it’s funny anymore. But it’s just such a part of the fabric of the internet that not knowing puts one at risk.” At risk! Did you hear that? You can thank me in the comments below.

Memes are everywhere—especially now that Pinterest is so popular.

A meme is:

an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.

According to my resident expert, almost every meme you see originated on 4chan and millions of them are now circulating on Pinterest, Facebook, and other channels. The image at the top of this blog is one example of a popular meme, “Socially Awkward Penguin.” Memes start with one creative individual and then people create millions of variations on that theme. The image to the left is another example that might be more familiar.

If you need an explanation of a popular meme—or just need a laugh—go to the site If you’re feeling clever and want to make your own version of a meme, go to If you do, and the image is squeaky clean (!), please share it on my Facebook page.

Song mashups violate copyright but they just can’t be stopped.

Mashups, or “sound collages,”  are unlikely combinations of two songs in one recording. My daughter found this “boss” article about  the history of the mashup. While mashups used to be made and sold, she says: “It’s pretty much impossible to make money off of mashups these days because of the legal fees to get the rights to all works, so they are now made for live performance by DJs and available for free downloads as promos.”

Some of the most popular mashups involve the song “Barbra Streisand” by Duck Sauce. (Warning: party footage in that link. You’ll see what I mean. But I want that big chair.) As an example, check out this mashup with “Vogue” by Madonna. And here are a two more selections from the site SoundCloud:

Lastly, a  special treat: you can insert your own name into the Duck Sauce song at this site. Here’s a version with my name, though God only knows why they’re pronouncing it in German. Enjoy!

What do you do for fun on the Internet? Besides hanging out on boring old Facebook and Pinterest!

Image credit:



Author: Claire Wagner

I'm a seasoned freelance writer/editor and an enthusiastic community manager. I'm passionate about developing and sharing good content.


Thank you, Claire! My kids keep me up on some of this, but not all. Great links!


Claire Wagner Reply:

Glad you enjoyed it, Anne. Please recommend to anyone who needs to get schooled about these important sites. ;D


Anne Janzer


Love the blog you put together! /b/ is the real wild west of the internet; no rules, survival of the fittest, winner takes all sort of place. It is the stomping grounds of annonymous, where they suffer no ‘noobs’. It is in this enviroment memes are born and proven, and only after surviving this crucible do they meet the rest of the net. Even if you never go there yourself, everyone must give props to 4chan for making the net the place it is today.
Rickrolling originated in /b/, but it holds the status as one of a few memes that escaped the internet, as the Macy’s day parade video shows. It is also a sure sign that the joke is stale for everyone who knew about it before that point.
Finally, soundcloud is deserving of a blog dedicated just to it. It’s an amazing platform for music bloging and sharing that I wish more people would check out.


Claire Wagner Reply:

Thanks, Lauren. Really appreciate your research and perspectives. Let’s collaborate on another blog some time.




Loved the post Claire!

I guess you are right – I am getting old! Never heard of any of these sites earlier than now, and I think your daughter is doing a wonderful job of getting you more trendy by getting you acquainted with all these things 🙂

I can well relate to this as my kids are doing the same my end, but I really don’t enter into their areas of interest, or I would surely turn mad!

I liked 4chan as it’s quite similar to Pinterest, and even meme was a nice one – made me laugh reading all those things.

Thanks for sharing 🙂


Claire Reply:

Thanks, Harleena. We had some good laughs over this and I feel more entertained as a result. Not that I needed more excuses to be online…


Harleena Singh


A great primer. My wife and I love a good mashup, and I relate to Socially Awkward Penguin a bit more than I’d like. Also, 4chan /b/ – can be hilarious, but also incredibly offensive. Not for the faint of heart.

This post made me smile. Thanks Claire.


Claire Reply:

Michael, glad you liked it. In response to a post about this on Facebook, I just heard about socially awkward turtle, too. I think it comes with some kind of hand motion I have yet to learn. I can’t keep up with kids these days!


Michael Foreman


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