I have a thing for the internet. If I could reanimate Pablo Neruda and commission him to write a sensual love poem about a person, place, or thing, I'd have to strongly consider the internet. In fact, Twitter was a very big reason I came to Tufts in the first place (follow @TuftsAdmissions if you aren't already!).
So, while I'm scampering across the waving fields of plenty (i.e. procrastinating) during reading period, I figured: why not collect the most socially important, impactful, or just plain interesting memes, YouTube videos, tweets, etc. into a post?
You'll notice that unlike some of my previous lists, there are no numbers here denoting rank. That's because I think it's up to you to decide what's best. It's also up to you to tell me what I missed! I (sort of...) have a life and I can't catch everything -- what cool meme or YouTube video do you think should be on here? Read through my list and write your suggestions in the comments; should it be more serious? Less? More cat pictures? What is your State of the Net?
Rewind Youtube Style 2012 (Update - Dec. 27)
One more from Google - this time from YouTube itself - wrapping up the year's events in style. Because really, who could possibly forget Call Me Maybe, Gangnam Style, Really Annoying Orange, or Jenna Marbles?
This video warms my inner geek so hard.
Google Zeitgeist 2012 (Update - Dec. 12)
This is exactly what I'm talking about. This short video captures some of the biggest trending search topics on the biggest search engine in the world, and it's really amazing that after watching it, you don't feel alienated - "I just watched a video about some people in a different country that I've never seen" - you feel connected. To me, that is what the internet is about and for: connecting people and ideas.
And cat pictures.
McKayla is not impressed
During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, McKayla Maroney performed an almost flawless vault (“sticking the landing,” according to the commentators) and was expected to win gold. After a less than stellar follow-up and an apparently unimpressive score of 15.083, McKayla only won silver.
Her famous face came on the medal stand, however, and has become one of the most popular memes of the year.
International Relations, as Depicted by Cats
IR Cats is a fairly recent meme that (drone) strikes close to my heart. Who couldn’tlove pictures of cats delivering witty commentary on the day’s news? It’s like the Economist with kittens!
The smash-hit K-pop single by PSY was obviously going to make this list. Tribute/parody videos have been made by everyone from MIT (“Noam Chomsky Style!”) to College Humor (“Mitt Romney Style”) to the US Olympic and Paralympic Teams (“Medals Style?”). Interestingly, many commentators have called PSY’s lyrics a satirical critique of South Korea’s “materialistic obsession with the Gangnam District of Seoul.”
Texts From Hillary
Possibly my favorite meme of the year. Especially since this one actually happened. Well… sort of. Two DC public relations umm…drones… (what do you call someone who works in PR, anyway?) started the tumblr “Texts From Hillary” in April, and it gained almost immediate attention. After it was featured in several national news outlets, TFH went truly viral and the creators were even contacted by the State Department. Nothing bad, unless they had any information about Julian Assange – the SOS just wanted to say that she was a big fan of the meme and to send them an autographed copy of one of the pictures.
My Drunk Kitchen
Technically, most of MDK is from 2011, but, like a good cheese, it only gets better with time. Hannah Hart (@harto) destroys her liver – so you don’t have to! – and makes food in a surprising variety of kitchens in this YouTube series. She’s also an incredibly talented singer, if you check out some of the extra videos from MDK. Personally, I prefer my food prepared (and knives wielded by) sober folk…
James Cameron tweeting from the Marianas Trench
The Marianas Trench is the deepest point in the world, and James Cameron, the director of films like Avatar, Titanic, Aliens, and The Terminator, among others, decided that he needed to tweet from it. I imagine being down there played a part in the experience, too, but let’s be real: he just wanted to tweet.
Just arrived at the ocean's deepest pt. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can't wait to share what I'm seeing w/ you @deepchallenge— James Cameron (@JimCameron) March 25, 2012
C. G. P. Grey (according to Wikipedia, Colin Gregory Palmer Grey) became a big deal this year by explaining things simply to people over YouTube. Seriously? Yup. His videos range from the above, “Can Texas Secede From the US?” to “Death to Pennies” and a Guide to the Alternative Vote. There’s a lot in his videos that I’m sure many people don’t know, let alone policymakers.
Jimmy Kimmel screwing with people's minds
I have to thank my housemate for this one. I also have to thank the Tufts Psychology Department for making Jimmy Kimmel required watching. In the first set of videos, Jimmy Kimmel attaches children to a (fake) lie detector and asks them questions that he actually knows the answer to. Hilarity – and interesting psychological consequences – ensues. I’m not sure if my favorite line is “Yeah, what it is?” or “So how long were you on the Moon?”
A few weeks ago, before the iPhone 5 was available to buy, Kimmel took to the streets of L.A. with an iPhone 4S that he had relabeled “iPhone 5” and asked people what they thought of it. Holding it next to their iPhone 4Ss, many people praised the perceived – but nonexistent – speed bump, slim profile, and increased feature set. Oh man.
Most recently, Kimmel decided to find out what people thought of Starbucks’ new $7 cup of coffee. But, he said, “we didn’t want to spend $7 on a cup of coffee, so we brewed our own.” Are you seeing a pattern?
Twitter has become more than the dangerous social media service that’s “more addictive than nicotine, alcohol, and sex” – it’s now the dangerous social media service that fights the US Government (and wins!) starts revolutions, and can send an off-the-cuff quip about Big Bird and PBS funding into a nationwide debate.
In November 2012, Google relaunched its Speak2Tweet service during the Syrian internet blackout, allowing anyone with access to a phoneline to call Google and leave a voicemail that would be posted @Speak2Tweet.
Twitter also played a massive role in the American presidential elections, especially with the growth of live-tweeting and live fact-checking services like @PolitiFact.
Lastly, Twitter is one of the few tech companies that will actually defend its customers. In 2012, its legal department issued a very cheeky opinion that essentially stated that the government needed a warrant if it wanted any customer information and if Twitter was compelled to produce anything, it would notify the customer.
Oh, and #AskPontifex.