Current Thing meme analysis and research

remember_summer_days

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So, I'm making this thread to discuss the political implications of this exotic variation of the soyjack meme.

1680020950031.png


I think this meme is trying to attack stuff that's obscure, weird, and grotesque to normies but really it's some normie-core shit all along. So like, it's trying to point out how mass culture ends up sublimating unique/fringe ideas for its own purposes. I will try making an effort to post down the line about this, but coincidentally, I've been thinking about this sort of issue recently, even before I saw this meme. Ever since the rise of mass media, it has been a major concern for artists to avoid their art being subjugated by The machine, and what can you do to avoid something like that? Novels like Mao II seem to imply that the novelist (And by extension artist) has lost this battle, and the only message that can avoid being consumed by mass culture is radical violence (Though I don't think Delillo was saying this is a good thing). From the few things I've read on guro, this seems to also have been a major interest of guro artist. The issue is, I think, because of our current mode of cultural consumption, to become individualized in many ways means to become alienated. I've also heard that staying authentic and was a major thing for the punk/goth people, hence the selling out meme. I guess all the things in here can be considered as stuff that sold out. Though some of the entries here are sort of baffling since I don't think they ver pretended to be unique or eccentric at all in the first place, like Scott the Wozz.

Anyways, the OP is a bit rambly cause my brain is a bit tired lol. But I'll probably effort more about my ideas on the matter later, or write an essay about it. I think there's something tying 'normie culture' and kitsch together in a way that illuminates the modern role of the artist, though that also produces some very important questions.

What is normie/normie culture?
Why do people of our stride look down upon normies? Or in more agora-friendly terms, Why is being >redditcostanzayeahrightsmirk undesirable?
What does it mean for something to be posser or a prep, to become normie? Is normie friendly a bad thing?
If we grant that normie is undesirable, how can we escape being normie?

And with respect to the image. Is everything here truly normie? It's weird because I feel like most things here are normie-fringe or normie-teetering. Hope that makes sense. Like it's not something most people on the street know about but most people who spend a good amount of their day online on 'fringe' websites like 4chan/Tumblr know about. See, here's the difficulty, for example, is 4chan/tumblr even not-normie when most young people know about them?

I also want YOU pepsimanthumbsup to help me catalog everything that's in here. We'll start by cutting segments of the image and writing down what each one is referring too, because like @SolidStateSurvivor pointed out, this is a great timecapsule of zoomer internet culture. After we catalog something it could be fun for the COUNCIL OF AGORA ROAD to decide if the thing in question is normie or not.


DOC with catalogue/explanation of everything in the meme: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IHlQ5TmKyr2INDeLOdYCgCoUJUKe1ccF7-CNh3eg6mk/edit


If you want to edit:

Add explanation and context of the thing and its impact on internet culture. If you want to go the extra mile, add links to vids explaining the thing, or memes, fanart, discussion boards, etc.

Image with Keys:


View: https://imgur.com/a/KAAf3RJ


Current Progress:

Circle means we know what it is.
X means we don't know what it is.
?? means we've seen it but don't know enough about it to make a description.


View: https://imgur.com/GiF8PIW
 
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remember_summer_days

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Here is the first one. I used a green highlighter to point out the ones I don't know about, but you can contribute to anything else you want or just discuss the image and the questions in the OP.

If you want to contribute to the catalog, don't just name the thing. Like, give a brief description of what it is and what its cultural impact has been, like if you were telling a stranger what it is about.

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remember_summer_days

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Also, there are a couple of things that should be added to this image imo. Drop your suggestions in the comments below and be sure to LIKE AND SUBSCRIBE AND SMASH THAT NOTIFICATION BELL.

Here are my suggestions:

Agoraroad and Oldweb in general.
My Little Pony.
Literally me movies like Drive, Taxi Driver, Cyberpunk 2047
Cyberpunk probably too
Infinite Jest
Makoto Shinkai
 
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SCP, cicada3301, markov denigrate, Numberphile/Computerphile, five.sh, "Welcome to NHK is real", declassified CIA/FBI projects,
plebbit being funded by gov/puppet/fake company, digital euro/ID · EU being control freaks,
4chan being psyop for army/psyop test (or being bought/took over by gov, stakeholder capitalism, kids being raised by corporations,
SaaS being neofeudalism, blackrock, project venus, auroville, idiocracy (plan)?, "everything is relative/believe nothing" nay-say, relative morality.
plastics in blood/babies/rainwater/everywhere ("eating credit-card worth it per year), why people dont take AI as calculators/ ai-shill/fund?,
media generalizing things, consent of the governed, science is new religion, manufactured problems/blame-seeking is racket,
human mind is readable by posts you make ("my phone is listening to me!"), citypop "plastix love" revival, "nothing is real" wishful lies for normies,
biased fact-checking, weakening population by opposing views/manufactured psychosis, dividing society is convenient/so is war/struggle,
make problem-sell solution, roblox small creators vs big companies shitty pay, wikipedia being funded by wikimedia - that may push various agendas,
...
 
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Taleisin

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Here's a general observation about this subject:

Current media is consumed via platforms such as youtube, tiktok, instagram, google newsfeed recommendations, etc. What do all these platforms have in common? Algorithmic control of content exposure. All content is recommended to users based on similar history, potential for ad revenue, and click rates. This incentivises content that maximises the breadth of audiences and appeals to the largest number of similar users. In examples such as >redditcostanzayeahrightsmirk, the algorithm is less prevalent within specific subreddits, aside from the front page, however the upvote system similarly incentivises those that cater to the average and those that follow the norm. On 4chan, the culture is so strong that no one tries to break the norm anyway, and the "stealing" of posts on sites like >redditcostanzayeahrightsmirk makes that culture mainstream in itself.

In previous times, consumption of content was mainly based on more organic sharing and searching. This meant that obscure topics and interests remained relatively obscure, and that communities centred around niche topics naturally built a userbase that was constituted by only those who'd passed through that "filter". If a community was "exposed" to the mainstream, users bemoaned the influx of "normies" and "fake fans" who didn't truly "get" the community.

However, nowadays the content that most people are used to consuming is that which is recommended to them. The general standard of content has changed, and the expectations of the consumer has shifted to match that. Even obscure and esoteric niches have fallen prey to this pattern, as no matter how the users feel the exposure of a topic is based on the same systems as any more mainstream interest. The growth of a niche relies on the algorithm, which brings similar users together and makes even the most obscure niches into what people would have called mainstream in the past, by shear number of clicks and volume of exposure.

What follows is the "normieization of current thing". All niches are necessarily diluted by volume of traffic, and content slowly becomes a parody of itself as memetic currents flow towards the common denominator by iteration. The niche ideas that would have once formed distinct subcultures become cheap search term tags to farm clicks, and as users continually search for more and more niche topics to fill the void of authenticity that they feel on some level but cannot necessarily identify, each new outbreaking of novelty is added to the ever growing list.

If you have something to add or ideas about how this pattern can be circumvented, I'd love to hear them.
 
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Taleisin

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dorgon

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The gentlemen with the black hair and the grey shirt holding the chalice with cum milk in it is YandereDev. He is a game dev-turned-lolcow(?) because he was known for generally being an asshole (and probably is a groomer while we're at it) when it came to receiving criticism for the game he was building, Yandere Simulator. The game itself is still far from being complete despite it being started since like 2014, cause YandereDev is really more of a cunt than anything. But enough of that.


What is normie/normie culture?
Why do people of our stride look down upon normies? Or in more agora-friendly terms, Why is being >redditcostanzayeahrightsmirk undesirable?
What does it mean for something to be posser or a prep, to become normie? Is normie friendly a bad thing?
If we grant that normie is undesirable, how can we escape being normie?

What a normie is, from my experience, is well, someone who is "normal". They really only use the internet for basic shit and for social media, they don't really have any hobbies that are considered "niche", they tend to be better at talking with other people (especially other normies), they particularly like mainstream and popular stuff (that doesn't mean ONLY mainstream stuff, and liking some mainstream stuff by itself doesn't make you a "normie"), and they don't really want to change any of the above. Normies are based off of the word "normalfag", which itself is based off of normal people. It is a term that dates probably all the way back to when the internet wasn't accepted by mainstream culture, back when nerds were the only ones using computers and the internet and shit. Nowadays, the Internet is so big and entrenched that you probably wouldn't be a normalfag if you never used the Internet by default.

On one hand I think it's strange that we look down upon normalfags, but on the other hand I understand why. I think it's stupid to judge people because they don't browse the sharty or know who Chris-Chan is, and I think it's good to be a "normie" to some extent, meaning that you are presentable and socially skilled enough to talk to other people (lmao). On the other hand, normies are pretty ignorant when it comes to certain problems, problems I believe everyone should know. For example how most social media companies make money by selling your data and use your data for personalized ads, how they're unaware that certain browsers (like Google Chrome or Firefox) log your search history and the websites you visit, not to mention all the terrible shit the government has done, like Ruby Ridge, MKUltra, Operation Mockingbird, or the CIA moving cocaine. And even if you tell them about how Google spies on you and sells your data for money, they don't really see anything wrong with that. I told my roommate that I downloaded ungoogled chromium as an alternative to Google Chrome cause I didn't want Google watching me, and he was like "so? Doesn't really matter to me." So I guess what's mainly wrong with normies is that they're complacent. They don't care about the lapses of privacy 2023 Internet brings us now, or the sketchy US government shit that's been happening, as long as everything is more convenient. Another problem with normies is that whenever a thing goes "mainstream", it pretty much gets saturated and ruined. But I'm not gonna expand on that since it was addressed already. BUT, it's also the reason why gatekeeping should be a thing.
 
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№56

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Whether something is obscure or not has absolutely nothing to do with its quality.
On top of that, what you read/watch/look at (I refuse to use "consume" here) isn't as important as how you read/watch/look at it.
If the only way you can engage with a creative work is to imagine it as homogenous "content" that you "consume" like it's soylent, then it doesn't matter how obscure or high-quality that "content" is. If you treat it like soylent it becomes soylent.
I think the secret behind this stupid meme is that people are realizing that you can't escape from the mass-media soy machine's tendencies just by running away from popular things. You have to actually change the way you think about creative work. Part of that involves not worrying so much about popularity.
 
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dorgon

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Whether something is obscure or not has absolutely nothing to do with its quality.
On top of that, what you read/watch/look at (I refuse to use "consume" here) isn't as important as how you read/watch/look at it.
If the only way you can engage with a creative work is to imagine it as homogenous "content" that you "consume" like it's soylent, then it doesn't matter how obscure or high-quality that "content" is. If you treat it like soylent it becomes soylent.
I think the secret behind this stupid meme is that people are realizing that you can't escape from the mass-media soy machine's tendencies just by running away from popular things. You have to actually change the way you think about creative work. Part of that involves not worrying so much about popularity.
hell yeah. I don't really understand the whole "popular thing bad" kind of thing. I listen to popular artists because they're good, not popular. I think "consuming" is just taking everything at face value. There's depth to a lot of creative works and once you understand that, it becomes a lot more enjoyable, and you understand it more and are able to take things out of it. Only thing is some works are designed to only be surface level, and that is when problems arise
 
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Vaporweeb

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Warning: dogshit rambling ahead.

These mostly just feel like a billion barely related things linked almost solely by the fact that they are internet-focused and have been enjoyed by young'uns in some respect (and the consequences that may or may not entail). Feels a lot like this: bait with the widest-cast net possible.

View: https://twitter.com/otherseas_/status/1186437945668067328


Some of these are pretty easy targets, like the Backrooms or Friday Night Funkin', which makes sense given they are perhaps some of the most well-known... "kiddiefied" (?) subjects on the internet in the past few years. This is, as with many things, a consequence of memetics and algorithms which increasingly distribute information about them as they become more popular with children with unrefined tastes, though not on the same level of degeneracy as Elsagate shit.

There seems to be some innate human need to categorize things. Combine this with a childlike imagination and desire for expression and you get fanbases which have been infamous for "ruining" the subject, such as:
The Undertale fandom and their many AUs.
The FnaF fandom and their many fangames and OCs
The Backrooms fandom and their many "levels" (tangential to SCP)
And, perhaps most infamously, the Sonic fandom and its OCs.

At our current "connectedness," it is inevitable that any palatable IP or concept will eventually be swarmed with so-called "normies" that "dilute" the fandom, making it seem less niche and therefore less special. As Dorgon stated, normies may not necessarily have deep knowledge of a certain subject as a consequence of their entry to it being both recent and a result of the algorithm. This can cause friction between them and "real fans," who may be understandably upset at a deluge of increasingly low-effort fan content, which lessens a sense of "culture" and camaraderie fostered by the smaller group of "real" fans. This is furthered by the normie's supposed "false" sense of identity, or "poser-ness," as they only recently jumped into a niche community and are expressing themselves as fans of equal fervor to older fans, seemingly only to pride themselves for liking something that isn't conventionally mainstream.

This is what brings me to my confusion over several included items on this list.

South Park is extremely far from being considered weird or obscure.
Roblox is one of the highest-grossing games of all time.
Monster energy?
TikTok???

Those latter two are so nebulous that I'm really not sure what the creator is getting at.

Again, I get the vibe that this boils down to the "le popular thing bad" sentiment shared by some. I'll ruminate on this a bit more.

Whether something is obscure or not has absolutely nothing to do with its quality.
Agreed. Much of the content that some feel "ruins" an IP is unofficial and easily avoided in most cases. To take an example from the meme, my enjoyment of the Half-Life series is not squandered by what I perceive as annoying, low-effort parroting of lines from the HLVRAI series because I simply avoid it and do not think of it.

Anyway, I'd love to participate in cataloguing and analyzing the subjects in this to scratch that aforementioned need to categorize things, which I have particularly bad. Not quite sure how to go about it. For now, simply listing everything that can be seen and explaining it separately is probably good enough for now. That information can then be taken and organized into another form later.

I'll just start with one because I've spent way too long writing this.

1680049227851.png

gm_construct is a default map for the video game Garry's Mod, a third-party sandbox game based off of Valve's Source engine, which allows users to do practically anything they want with assets from Source engine games, such as Half-Life 2, Portal, TF2, and more. As a default map, it is extremely accessible to new players who either do not know how to download other custom maps, or do not care. A result of this is that it has become the map most associated with the game, as it has been used in countless derivative pieces of media over the nearly 20 years since Garry's Mod came out, such as in-game fan animations and tutorial videos. In recent years, it has become the focus of various "digital horror" projects, a more modern counterpart to the "analogue horror" genre, which, rather than focus on properties set in or around the VHS era of the 80s and 90s, focuses on mostly video games from the early to late 00's.
1680049257750.png

A reason for this is that, on most later versions of the map, there is a "dark room" that is pitch black. The reason for this room's existence is to simply test out lamps and lights in a dark environment, but the deep-seated fear of the dark present in most people (notably young children just playing around in the game) have led to construct being associated with "spooky vibes." This has inspired several Alternate-Reality Games (ARGs) and horror series which hypothesize some sort of malevolent entity being present in the game. This concept, of course, is derivative of many, many other older "creepypastas" which posit haunted video games, thus sharing a close lineage to classic internet horror.

The two most notable series of this genre are gunslingerpro2009 and Classic GM Videos

View: https://youtu.be/286MSA4hJ0g


View: https://youtu.be/rBdb-O60Fr0


EDIT: Added Construct images
EDIT2: Added videos
 
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Yabba

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I see it in my students all the time.

They brag about how "niche", and amazing the media they consume (a lot of which I see in the image). The problem is, most never find the true "niche" because they get their "niche" from mainstream avenues. Avenues known by the average person.
 
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Vaporweeb

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If I had to guess, it's that someone was mad because their favorite obscure thing suddenly became... not mainstream, but popular enough to attract annoying people. Or people they personally dislike.

Either that or I'm just projecting.
I would like to personally congratulate you for summing up my essay in a sentence. If only I were this concise...
But yeah, that's pretty much the gist.
 
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Orlando Smooth

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I feel like I've been seeing versions of this meme throughout the various "epochs" of meme culture dating back to the mid/late 00's. I always assumed it was more of a take on just how shallow trend chasers are: they reject something one day, fully embrace it the next (even if they don't care to fully understand), and forget about it the day after that. With that said, I've really appreciated reading the discussion here so far. It's been thought provoking to someone who's been pretty detached from both fads and deep internet culture for a while.

I think the secret behind this stupid meme is that people are realizing that you can't escape from the mass-media soy machine's tendencies just by running away from popular things.
It seems like this is exactly why some version of this has always existed: this is a realization that most people eventually come to at some point in their lives, and the people that don't wind up as Disney adults or funko collectors or whatever. It's not as if all of society is waking up to this all at once, rather that a new crop of people is primed for this realization every day. Children and teens are especially prone to defining their lives based on the media they interact with and are fans of, because they lack the things that adults use to define their lives (i.e., relationships, careers, serious artistic pursuits, etc.). This means that the kids who are a little weird or different will be very outspoken about their love for "weird" media. Case in point:
I see it in my students all the time.

They brag about how "niche", and amazing the media they consume (a lot of which I see in the image).
I'm not even convinced that the concept of pushing "alternative" media through mainstream sources is something that is internet specific. Grunge was "alternative" while Nirvana was on MTV, so is it mainstream or is it alternative? While we may now think of that as the defining music of the era, it's not as if it was all consuming and what everyone listened to at the time.

If I had to guess, it's that someone was mad because their favorite obscure thing suddenly became... not mainstream, but popular enough to attract annoying people.
To be fair, it does feel a bit like theft when something that you care about deeply suddenly takes on other connotations or is embraced by people very contrary to you. As an anecdote, a decade or more before anyone had heard of "techwear" I was wearing a lot of outdoorsy clothes because I was a teenager and wanted the world to know that I was into backpacking and climbing. This continued into my college years where I became more refined with the style, and people liked that I was able to set myself apart and be expressive about what I like without being weird or pushy about it. Few years later, I woke up one day and realized I looked like every douchey fintech bro that I couldn't stand even though I had been doing it first. Kinda sucked that I had to abandon an image that I had cultivated for myself over a decade in order to prove that I'm not the thing that came along after I had already been doing it.
 
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UCD

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One of the most interesting things that have been dredged from the depths of the internet and find popularity with a certain subset of terminally online zoomers is Serial experiments Lain, of which I am sure you are all familiar with. This series is practically worshipped in the underground anime scene and the neocities community, and all of their adjacent communities. It also has found a ton of use in "edits" on tiktok and breakcore music that surfaced in the semi mainstream for a while, and subsequently became somewhat popular. However, a significant amount of this newfound popularity came from normies, people who simply lacked edge. But what was this edge exactly? The previous enjoyers of Lain were in fringe groups for a reason, they were interested in anime that seems like trash to most people, or engaged in homemade neocities cites, which most people have zero interest in browsing or making, or they were schitzo sci fi nerds thinking about technological singularities and secret government plots. The short answer is you have to have a reason to be a weird fucked up terminally online nerd, and these people lacked the reason, and therefore are definitively not part of the in-group. They lack the autistic levels of interest and dedication that defines these communities, and most importantly they lack the edge. Most fringe anime has some levels of extreme degeneracy at play, and many neocity site creators despise the corporate controlled net and the collection of private info. Many of the weirdo programmers and sci fi nerds are basically schizo anti government types. What defines the in group is not what you are interested in, its everything else.

the classic analogy is punk music. Are you punk if you listen to punk music and nothing else? do you have to wear the clothes take up the politics, become a nihlist, and do drugs and never get a job? To the hardcore, of course not, but then again, most people are not hardcore about anything. If you listen to punk music and are exposed to the subculture and change nothing about your life and continue to live as a generic normal guy, does that mean you didn't get the "true meaning" of the music, or is it worse if you become a poser and pretend to do all of these things?

I think that there is a middle way to all of this. If you come across something that you like, that carries some new perspective, and you don't change anything, as if you never thought about its implications at all, then your ability to think critically is obviously questionable. If you come across something that carries some new perspective and you change everything, that seems to say that you are gullible and unchallenged, and you just grasped onto something to be part of a group, any group, and your actual status of a fan comes into question. The most respectible person in my opinion, is someone who comes across something that brings a new perspective, and they adopt it, but don't make it their entire personality, instead integrating it into their worldview or list of interests.

And now we come back to the original image. I see the soyjack as someone who has taken the path of someone that completely adopts something without critical thought, someone who doesn't really "get it". Even thought this is pretentious it is true to some extent. A lot of people have gotten into obscure, "weirdcore" stuff purely because of the clout of being part of a subculture no one else knows about. It is similar to the related music elitism, where people on 4chan and rym and elsewhere seem to gauge the quality of music purely based off of how obscure it is multiplied by how cool it makes them look.

Simply, people like to think they are a part of a secret club that automatically makes them way cooler than everybody else without them actually having to have a personality or taste.
 
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Yabba

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I'm not even convinced that the concept of pushing "alternative" media through mainstream sources is something that is internet specific.
It's not, the internet just accelerated this trend, as kids are on it Waaaay too much.
 
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赤い男

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To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand the Half-life series. The story is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most key plot points will go over a typical player's head. There's also Dr.Breen's philosophical outlook, which is deftly woven into his characterisation his personal philosophy draws heavily from Narodnaya Volya literature, for instance. The fans understand this stuff; they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depths of the story, to realise that they're not just emotional- they say something deep about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Half-Life truly ARE idiots- of course they wouldn't appreciate, for instance, the charm in Alyx who is a very import character as she interacts with you and look for a way to save her father. I'm smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion as Gabe Newell's genius wit unfolds itself on their television screens. What fools.. how I pity them.

And yes, by the way, i DO have a Lambda tattoo. And no, you cannot see it. It's for the ladies' eyes only- and even then they have to demonstrate that they're within 5 IQ points of my own (preferably lower) beforehand. Nothin personnel kiddo.
 
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