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.
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.
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.
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.
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 knowyourmeme.com. If you’re feeling clever and want to make your own version of a meme, go to memegenerator.net. If you do, and the image is squeaky clean (!), please share it on my Facebook page.
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: