the revenge of the shape rotators (part 1)
how memes can save the world
the world is full of distortions and of slanted and suppressed truths. always was.
the media has forever been a funhouse mirror.
it’s easy to think that this is some new-new thing.
but it’s not.
the people in the 60’s were making the same cartoons we are today.
modern media has exacerbated this. it seeks crisis and conflict of people on people in a manner more prolific than prior periods because it’s inherent to the medium.
in this age of media activism and bespoke talking point regurgitation tailored for every demanding echo chamber and bias-confirmation hungry coffee klatch, it can get pretty severe.
media seeks to inflame not to inform.
that which used to be no big deal
is suddenly reason to lose our minds, change our lives, sell our cars, and start eating bugs.
but look at those temperatures closely. they’re lower, not higher. it’s not the world that changed, it’s the manner in which the world is being presented. this has long worked to mislead, but this ability is failing, supplanted by a new memetic technology.
memes like the one above are anti-propagandistic gold. their informational density is surreal and they lay plain not only how shabby this trick is but how the trick is done so you can more easily spot the next one. best, they teach away from the provocative image that previously evoked fear or rage and invert it so that the same image in the future now screams “they are manipulating you” instead.
it’s an entire argument, indictment, and informational immune booster in one simple medium.
memes are changing everything.
you can now distill an entire ethos into 10 seconds of attention by evoking myriad connections by utilizing familiar content repurposed as an elicitation of linkage.
and that is the path to victory for even if modern media is indeed more inimical to information and more disposed to manipulate and mislead us it is also more capable of absolutely destroying this practice because memes are ascendant and memes are different. they comprise a serious shift in the informational arms race.
pictures and soundbites are ruled by emotion, but memes rule by informational density and the power of analogy.
it’s the revenge of the shape-rotators whose intellectual/rational arguments were too slow to compete with the speed of talking points and powerful imagery. that which takes 6 seconds to say cannot be effectively refuted at mass scale by that which takes 6 minutes to lay out. this fact has long ruled the modern mediasphere, but memes have suddenly given the SR’s the upper hand for memetic information is faster still and calls upon far greater breadth of associative linkage.
a picture may be 1000 words, but a good meme is a treatise.
you know the pattern, so you pick up the rest. you fill in the gaps, draw the associations. the true meme does not carry in it all the information it expresses, it’s a shorthand code to show you the linkages between things you already know.
it’s a form of mnemonic.
it’s a map for shape rotation.
and it is impossibly powerful, endlessly customizable, and cumulative in its efficacy because the more you know the rhythm of the templates, the more rapidly they are recognized the more the variance from past versions pops and becomes distinct, absorbable information.
it’s a jazz riff on a favorite melody or a house music version of a song you used to like to sing.
and so the world begins to change.
welcome to the age where you can devastate a whole movement with one well chosen flourish:
and cut to the marrow of the flaws and managed mendacities faster than they may be promulgated. for perhaps the first time in history, we have the template to refute big lies more quickly and more comprehensively than they can be told.
consider the outrageous density of this. you likely know the meme, but instead of aspiring sith-lord annikin, you get dead eyed ida auken, author of the WEF’s infamous treatise. the comparison to the dark side is instant and the refrain of “you’ll have no privacy and own nothing and be happy” skewered as the implausible tripe it is and hung with sinister overtones of darth vader.
you’ve invited to get the joke that it’s all a lie and the tale is fit into one that you already know.
and it cements this into perception.
you could easily write a 3000 word essay on “sith imagery in the WEF’s plans” or you can just plunk down a meme that elicits all of it in 6 seconds and makes people grin.
this is a whole new landscape.
entire political discussions can be distilled into perfect crystalline images.
it’s easy to presume that the left hates memes because they are so bad at them. and there it likely truth to that. much of leftism/collectivism arises as a lack of ability to rotate shapes. emotional thought is terrible at analogy and worse at humor.
(especially the dark humor that is so viciously and viscerally effective)
and mockery through concept linkage is stunningly hard to stand against.
(especially if you stink at it.)
but there is another reason as well:
(part two and three follow. this was truncated to meet the size limits imposed by email providers)