Can we Halve your Attention?

by Gus Donohoo

A (CTRL-C) + (CTRL-V) failed explanation.
Time and space are accelerating—Los Angeles to New York in six hours, quarter pounders in two minutes, internet porn in three seconds, internet fame in one second (following someone finding your internet porn collection, filming you discovering that they have found your internet porn collection, and posting the whole ignoble effort to reddit). As dark energy flings galaxies further and further apart, humanity— probably coincidentally—goes faster, and faster, and faster, and... So it is that the things that humor us must accelerate at the speed of meme. Humor, amusement, pity, irritation—a flickering emotional response to a glimpsed at stimuli—a cat playing a piano, a man attempting to bomb-dive a frozen swimming pool, Kanye West. No longer do the slow burn of primitive emotions suffice. No longer are our heroes those who invest their lifetimes in doing great things. Laugh, love, hate. Laugh, love, hate.

The meme is the gene of culture— a component, an informational bit—akin to a sequence of DNA, but carrying a trend or an idea that spreads and propagates through civilization like a virus. The meme can be a photo, a video, a fashion, a style—even a poorly designed graphic or a snippet of inappropriate laughter. The meme is infectious. It mutates, it goes toxic, it goes dormant—without the applied energy of the internet to feed on, it fades away into obscurity—yet it is never further than a single mouse-click from re-infection—just the right mutation to make it relevant again... Donald Trump.

Jimmy Ruffin pondered what becomes of the broken hearted, Flaunt ponders what becomes of the instantaneously famous. Internet fame is a different breed of fame to that of yesteryear— it’s the fame of the new age: over-worked, under- paid—it lacks the foothold of a Hollywood mansion, a concert rider of 10,000 white M&M’s, adoring fans, and liberated groupies. It comes with harassment, ridicule, un-employability, and 10,000 meaningless twitter followers. But there is joy in it, there is a good time—only not for the memed, just for “the internet”—for a seething mass of interconnected humanity that speaks for all of us and for none of us.

For every high there’s a low. And being the gluttons of misery that we are, Flaunt brought together some recovering celebrated/ridiculed/loved/loathed/over-used/under- whelmed memes for a gathering of sorts— for a meeting of the broken-hearted, for a welcome to their newest member, and to contemplate their far- flung future. As Einstein noted, comedy=tragedy+time. But as all culture converges towards becoming a meme, and as the time between memes gets ever shorter, does our comedy become our tragedy, our pride become our shame, and our fame become our anonymity?

See Part II here.