The tl;dr version: Really? I blame cat macros.
All right, so perhaps this is a strange way to begin a blog - and I don't mean a blog post, to begin a blog period. However, I find introductory blogs to be both tedious and time-wasting, especially since much personal information will come out about me over time (I mean, hell, it's a blog), so I thought I'd just get right to the subject.
Today's subject is the degradation of internet (t34 interwebz) culture.
Now, I know some of you are probably scoffing out there. "Trivea," you say, or at least you would if you knew that was what I go by, "what internet culture? After all, the internet isn't a real place. There's no culture outside of real life. It's just a bunch of losers sitting in front of their computer screens."
Sadly, if you said this, you're completely right about one thing - it is a bunch of losers sitting in front of their computer screens. However, it's a culture never-the-less. I believe that anything that you can make money utilizing counts as part of the real world, and obviously, you can make a living through the internet if you know what you're doing. And anything that's part of the Real World must have some kind of culture to it. Look at high school, after all: you have to understand that culture to survive. Dungeons and Dragons isn't considered by many to be part of the Real World, but it's still a driving factor in nerd culture.
But I digress. Whether or not you believe that the internet is more than a bunch of people whining back and forth about how much their respective lives suck, or laughing at other people because they misspelled "superfluous" at four in the morning, or whatever else happens on the internet, it's really there. Think of the internet as a world (I think XKCD's Map of Online Communities really captures the spirit of it best), and like the Real World, there are different languages spoken in different parts, and different dialects of each language.
The internet was, in my opinion, better before one thing happened: memes were mainstreamed. Now, really, their are tons of different kinds of internet surfers (the Facebookers vs. the Myspacers, MMO junkies, deviantArt drones, Anonymous, the list goes on), but there are really two groups - people who really know the internet, and people who don't.
I want you to look at this: /b/
Now. That right there will signify which group you fall into. If you looked for an emoticon in that (and maybe you found one! Congrats), you belong in group two: the people who don't know the internet. If you cringed and immediately remembered the time you found 4Chan.com and thought that browsing it was a FANTASTIC idea, and have rued the day ever since, you belong in group one.
Now, I think I can safely put most blame (or a whole lot of it) for meme mainstreaming squarely on the shoulders of the Cheezburger Network. You know the people - I Can Has Cheezburger, I Has a Hotdog, FailBlog, There I Fixed It, etc. And, to be honest, I do think that their intentions, in the very least, were honorable. I mean, have you ever seen their Chatroulette Trolling site? Obviously, they know what they're doing (or at least some of their users do). But I've about had it up to here - and those of you who know that phrase know the body language that goes along with it - with people who stumble across cat macros (which have been re-dubbed 'lols' for some unfathomable reason) think that they suddenly know all there is to know about Teh Intertubes.
I really do think I'm going to slap the next person who thinks they're internet-savvy because they know the word 'nom' or the phrase 'I can has' but think that Pedobear looks like he would make a good toy for small children. Really? Have you seen this guy? That thing is only slightly less horrifying than birthday party clowns, and everyone knows how scary those are. Ew.
But it's really become a problem. One of the first cat macros is the infamous Happy Cat, which is labeled rather whimsically with 'I can has cheezburger?' The earliest sightings of the picture were from SomethingAwful.com, and if that doesn't give away the content, I don't know what does. It often showed up on Caturday on 4Chan, as well, which is a place the Soccer Moms of the Internet have no business being. But that, along with other cat memes that have been horribly mainstreamed - Longcat, Ceiling Cat vs. Basement Cat, Monorail Cat, the list goes on - is probably one of the main reasons that the internet is going downhill. Slapping misspelled crap on a picture of a cat who kind of vaguely looks like it's on an invisible bicycle is not comic genius, nor does it suddenly make you Lord of Da Interwebz.
It's actually kind of astounding to me the way that memes that were funny once are thrown into the mainstream and suddenly lose their funny to everyone who knows where they came from. Rickrolling? Not funny. Stop it. Over 9000? Still kind of funny. Stop it while it still is. Do a barrel roll? Has anyone ever actually played that game? And I don't know where you heard I like Mudkips, but it isn't true, so stop telling me.
There was a time that Facebook was for college students to connect with other college students. Great idea! Hey, it might have actually been useful if they'd stuck with it. Now their primary base is thirteen-year-old emos whining about how much junior high sucks. It doesn't really matter how much they whine, though, because all thirty-four of their fans are either bots or other whiny junior high students.
Do you see what I'm getting at here? Things that are awesome on the internet are not allowed to stay that way because morons keep getting a hold of it. Memes were not made for the average internet browser, but the Cheezburger Network did it anyway and warped most of them enough that anyone can feel clever just shouting "DO NOT WANT". Or CAPSing it. Whatever. So many things have had the potential to be really cool - Facebook, MySpace, most MMOs (even WoW), YouTube, and others - but then idiots sunk their claws into it and ruined it.
So I think there should be a federal mandate, at least here in the United States, that everyone should take the /b/ identification test. Those who fail are allowed to stay only on the already-ruined websites, like those I've mentioned before (I forgot fanfiction.net, but who ever remembers fanfiction.net?), while those who pass are allowed to go on about their business. I mean, what's next? Cleaning up and mainstreaming Encyclopedia Dramatica? I think their little heads would explode.
And they would accidentally the whole internet.