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Jumping on the Meme Bandwagon

June 22nd, 2008


Somewhere, there’s a guy with the handle “vanderleun” who is either severely peeved, is the single most embarrassed person on the planet this week, or is both. On June 16th, there was a discussion thread in the comments section of a blog titled “Lawyers, Gun$ and Money,” a liberal political blog. The post itself poked fun at a blog post by a liberal-turned neocon commenting on Michelle Obama, the mythical “whitey” tape, and the Obamas’ supposed intentions. The “Lawyers” writer gave a subjective summarization of the neocon’s blog post, called it a “shorter” version of the post, and put it in blockquotes. In the comments section, “vanderleun” gave a stilted criticism:

As a participant in the thread that follows the link to neoneocon, I should like to point out that the quote you excerpted

does not exist

in neoneocon’s post. Nor does it exist in the comments.

The post’s writer then explained what “shorter” means, and vanderleun came back with:

I am aware of all internet traditions and also of literary conventions in which placing something in quotes or in a blockquote means that your are quoting that person.

But here you are not.

And thus began a flash in the pan. Commenters at the blog loved the “I am aware of all Internet traditions.” One commenter decided to fuse memes and so made up one of those cat-with-bad-spelling photos, riffing on the “Internet traditions” concept. Others saw it, and very soon popular blogs started reporting on it. From there, it took off to monumental proportions, until everyone in sight was making up the “Internet Traditions” images (my own contribution to the meme is seen at top). A blog started which collects and displays the various take-offs, and–of course–someone started selling T-shirts. All this after just a few days.

This is an excellent demonstration of the dynamics and effects of social networking, where an offhand comment can explode into an international riot within mere hours.

And it goes to show that when you post something on the Internet, no matter how innocuous or obscure you believe your writing is, you have to be very careful of what you say, but even more cautious of where and to whom you say it.

Categories: Computers and the Internet Tags: by
  1. QuizzicalBee
    June 24th, 2008 at 04:09 | #1

    Hi. I enjoyed your comments about the new flash in the pan internet meme, and looked it up. I thought you’d be interested to know who this “vanderleun” guy is who is at the root of the ridicule. You can read this: http://tbogg.blogspot.com/2007/01/jane-as-most-of-you-are-already-aware.html
    for more info. But basically, he is known for making fun of a particular pundit who has recurrent breast cancer, so has incurred the wrath of many. He’s also a right-wing Bush apologist, which has caused him to incur the contempt of many. So I can’t feel sorry for him for this.

  2. June 24th, 2008 at 04:39 | #2

    i love this one. that monkey is awesome. i’ll post it soon.

  3. June 24th, 2008 at 05:19 | #3

    Thanks for the link love to the Newshoggers — I just have a minor dispute — we are (unfortunately) not that popular as measured by traffic stats — influential perhaps but not popular — Balloon Juice has to take the credit for pushing this into critical mass.


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