Digital Sharing

Digital sharing is the major foundation of social media and social networking sites (SNS). Social media and applications like Twitter and Facebook provide us with a platform for sharing the information and images we come across on a day-to-day basis.

Digital sharing has awakened and fed this inner desire we feel to share our everyday experiences online. Applications like FourSquare or the ‘check in’ feature of Facebook are evidence of this, where we feel the need to alert everyone to our movements and activities.

“The Pew Research Center states that Millennial’s (those who came of age in the new millennium — currently age 20-36) are the “always on generation” (McMahon 2014). This stems from our addiction to technology and constant interactions with it. Speaking from a personal experience, I know if I lose or am without my phone for any extended period of time, I feel as though I am missing a limb.

Social media has become an extension of our physical beings, particularly now that so much of the way we present ourselves is a result of our online profile. Even when I am out with friends, I find myself and everyone constantly checking their phones so regularly you’d be forgiven for thinking they were expecting a message from the Queen.

This problem is a common one for the Millennial generation, although it has provided the answer to one of the age-old problems – how to split the bill at dinner. It’s not uncommon to walk in to a restaurant today and see a pile of smart phones face down in a pile on the table, the idea being the first person to pick up and look at their phone has to pay the bill. And yes, it is a lot harder than it sounds.

smart-phones

So significant has our need to record and archive our experiences become, that people are living their lives through a lens and missing out the real experience. Take for example music concerts, the amount of mobile phones you see lighting up the dark as their owners record 30 seconds of Lorde or whoever singing is ridiculous. It takes away from the whole point of going to see an artist live, because you are experiencing the sounds and images through a lens, no different to a TV.

Despite the idea that audiences are missing out on experiences due to their distraction with the screen (and camera lens), it can be argued that by recording these memories -through image, video and sound- the highly sensory and presumably exciting nature of the moment they are experiencing, can be prolonged well into the future. This can be seen as a compromise between the quality and longevity of their experiences; while the quality of the moment is diminished by audiences not being fully immersed in the moment of action, the experiences being recorded can go on to surpass spacial and temporal boundaries otherwise constrained to that moment in time. Watching pre-recorded experiences, such as concerts, can often elicit memories almost as intense and thrilling as they were live. Digital sharing essentially allows for the multiplicity of these memories and experiences, which although compromised in their authenticity, are prolonged and disseminated for many others to also enjoy.

Adding to this, digital sharing allows many to experience these memories of the quality of their time in the present moment.

References:

  • McMahon, K., 2014, ‘Could we Disconnect for Just a Moment’, The Blog, Accessed: 27/10/14, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kyle-mcmahon/could-we-disconnect-for-just-a-moment_b_5709401.html
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The Power of the Internet Meme

Memes and Internet fads have become an integral part of our digital society. A recent phenomenon, memes play a vital role that extends far beyond the instant comedic value they hold.

One of the most famous and successful memes of modern times is the success baby meme (pictured below) that you’ve no doubt seen. The image was captured at the beach and uploaded online and the rest is history. The photo soon went viral online and young Sammy became an Internet sensation.

Success Baby Meme

Marketing, advertising and promotions professionals all embrace memes as an inexpensive way of conducting business, not only is because they’re trendy, but also because they spread like wildfire.

Memes have harnessed the limitless potential of the digital age and the Internet, further reinforcing the power of the individual user. To some degree memes reflect the tone of todays social etiquette and norms.

The visual image of the fist pumping baby gives mature attributes to a toddler, which when combined with text creates a humorous entity. The success of the fist-pumping baby has been so significant that Virgin Mobile UK decided to use it in there advertising campaigns and sign the youngster to a lucrative contract.

Similar to the fist success baby meme is the sceptical baby meme, as seen below, which continues the comical nature of baby memes. With these parents also lucky enough to catch their toddler on camera in a priceless pose, the image went viral within weeks.

Skeptical Baby Meme

The images of these kids reflect feelings or emotions that are further accentuated in the text. This combination of humour and incomplete language has become a reoccurring theme among memes, and ultimately form new socially typifying languages that we as social media users have come to appreciate.

The viral power of the meme is only matched by the difficulty of knowing when you’ve found a winner. Marketers use famous memes in their advertising and subsequently pay a hefty sum to license the image. It would seem supremely easier and cheaper to simply just create a new meme and allow it to go viral, but therein lays the problem.

Memes are highly unpredictable and essentially untraceable: there is no recipe or hard science on which picture, video, or joke will go viral next. It can often take years for a meme to be discovered before it goes viral and there have been countless examples of this.

Remember Rebecca Black’s song “Friday”? Firstly my deepest condolences if you do. Secondly though, it is a great example of an Internet trend lying dormant before gaining unprecedented coverage years later. Black uploaded the video to YouTube way back in 2011, although it wasn’t until years later that it went viral after a Tweet caught the attention of thousands.

The scale of the song was unheard of, with over 167 million views and 3.1 millions dislikes (87% of the total ratings) it proved that terrible content can go viral just as much its popular or funny counterpart.

Much like the celebrated baby memes though, the financial fallout from the video was massive, where through two million ITunes downloads it earned Black $1.4 million in just a few days.

The power of memes is clear to marketers and advertisers, the real issues lies in replicating the science that makes them so popular. Much like the Internet itself, memes are dynamic and unpredictable in a way that coincides with topical issues currently prevalent within society.