Discover more from Risky Reads
Memes Are The New Underground
Why you need a good meme dealer to know which way the wind blows
You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
But it doesn’t hurt to have a good meme dealer.
Let’s take a look at why, at this crazy moment in history, memes are the new underground.
In the 1965 classic ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues,’ Bob Dylan sang the line, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”
The simple but powerful message defined a generation: if you want to get in touch with the zeitgeist, you need to look outside the official sources.
During the 60s, rock and roll itself formed a body of underground knowledge. Simply listening to the right music was a secret education in the stuff no one was allowed talk about, like sex and drugs.
As time passed, however, the rock rebellion became co-opted by the music industry and other moneyed interests. By the time MTV’s Total Request Live popped onto the scene in 1998, popular music had completed its transformation from authentic resistance to just another mass-produced commodity.
While music became commodified, the Internet emerged as a new vanguard.
The Internet grew into the ultimate cultural machine because it was capable of containing all other forms of media, seamlessly integrating newspapers, books, CDs, TV, movies, and everything else into its infinite digital library.
As it matured, the Internet developed its own indigenous language—memes—which became a sort of meta-media capable of remixing every other form.
The history of memes reflects the progression of the Internet’s distinctive vibe. Early memes tended to be straightforward, stuff like cats, babies, puns, and other nuggets of wholesomeness. Occasionally, there was a whiff of irony.
As online culture evolved, memes became more ironic, surreal, and self-referential, a development that both mirrored and accelerated IRL trends.
The term meme was coined in 1976 by biologist Richard Dawkins to mean unit of culture that had a life of its own.
It wasn’t until the Internet, though, that the concept of a ‘meme’ reached its fullest potential.
The Internet has helped us see the history of memes with clearer eyes. Today, it’s possible to draw a lineage of memes reaching from early cave paintings to the present.
It now seems obvious that we’ve been meme’ing as long as we’ve been human, and the web is just the most advanced meme-dissemination technology developed to date.
So far, Internet meme culture has managed to resist being co-opted by the establishment.
The reason is that memes prize authentic expression. A good meme has to contain something genuinely funny or insightful, or it won’t survive the merciless evolutionary pressures of the Internet.
The difference between a truly powerful meme and a meme made to sell a product or idea is something you can just feel in your bones.
An important feature of the contemporary meme culture is increasing online censorship.
When the Internet started, you could pretty much say anything, as long as you were willing to deal with the consequences of other people saying anything back at you.
However, the corporatization of the online space has resulted in more suppression of speech. What was once the wild west now resembles a chain of mid-tier country clubs, replete with stodgy rules and wired to the gills with surveillance.
Out of necessity, memes have turned into a way to slip the trap of censorship.
Nowadays, there are certain ideas you can’t get away with saying in public—except with the right meme.
An important concept in this regard is a Meme Lord: a master of memes who is able to locate the exact boundary of acceptable speech and nudge it outward with a well-timed meme.
Part of the reason Elon has such a devoted online following is that he is the undisputed Meme Lord of Twitter.
His encyclopedic knowledge of memes, feel for the Internet’s spirit, and willingness to broach taboo topics is unique among public figures of his stature.
Memes have other qualities that suites them for being at the vanguard of cultural evolution.
First, memes afford the option of anonymity.
Some ideas are so controversial that they need to be released into the ether of public opinion without attribution.
Only later, after folks have become comfortable with their existence, can they be vocalized by a known entity.
Anonymous memes are a great format for presenting taboo thoughts because they separate speaker from idea, which then stands or falls on its merits.
Another quality of memes is that they are ideologically neutral.
There’s no package deal like with political campaigns where you’re pressured to pledge allegiance a whole bunch of ideas all at once or risk being ostracized.
Each meme is a distinct thought-form and can be accepted or rejected on its own terms. In meme culture, you’re encouraged to enjoy at lefty memes, conservative memes, crypto memes, dank memes, wholesome memes, esoteric and spiritual memes, etc etc, all at the same time!
Finally, memes partake in a special brand of speculative humor, sometimes called Jester’s Privilege.
For ages, comedians have been allowed to say things we’d otherwise never tolerate because they’re assumed to be joking.
Sometimes the best way to communicate a controversial idea is to say it in an unserious way, so it can be laughed off while its deeper meaning slowly unfolds in the private theater of the mind.
Memes say the quiet part out loud while allowing for plausible deniability: loosen up—it’s just a meme!
Memes are great at conveying profound truths through humor. They’re also a powerful source of news and information.
A recent example was the egg shortage. Memers picked up that something bizarre was going on with eggs ahead of everyone else.
They conveyed this sense through a series of hilarious memes that captured the ambiguity and absurdity of whatever was happening.
Traditional journalism eventually got around to the story, but even then it mostly regurgitated government decrees about avian flu.
No matter how many local farmers reported that their chickens had stopped laying eggs, media stuck to their standard nothing-to-see-here-folks narrative.
If you wanted all the angles, including the forbidden ones, the best place to find them was the memes.
I’m not suggesting that memes are unimpeachable source of info—far from it—but as a medium for transmitting news, they lead the viewer to think independently, exercise discernment, and question official pronouncements in a way that corporate media does not.
Ultimately, the difference between traditional and meme journalism comes down to freedom.
Most legacy journalists have to obey their editors, write in a formulaic structure, and project a tone of authority no matter how little they actually know.
By contrast, memes’ only mandate is to be informative and entertaining. Meme-makers can work freely off of intuition, speculation, and vibe, allowing them to cut closer to the bone of truth.
In this way, meme-makers function like a journalistic scout troops, sniffing out the probable truth amidst a fog of uncertainty and propaganda.
Great memes score bonus points for doing so with comic verve.
One of best reasons for getting news through memes is the growing union between the legacy press and government.
In decades past, journalists performed a vital public service by providing a check on the powerful.
To do so, the press had to maintain a healthy skepticism toward government. The relationship between journalists and politicians used to be largely adversarial.
These days, though, it’s not clear where the government ends and the press begins.
This arrangement is straight out of Orwell, giving already powerful institutions the ability to define truth and falsehood through media capture.
The Twitter Files is the latest example of how far intelligence agencies will go to mislead the public by literally commandeering the airwaves and censoring the truth into oblivion.
The revelations from Twitter have been shocking, but for seasoned observers, the government’s behavior is nothing new.
Recent history is filled with reasons not to trust Uncle Sam, from intentionally infecting poor black Americans with Syphilis (Tuskegee Experiment) to biowarfare (MK Naomi) to secretly dosing people with LSD to study mind control techniques (MK Ultra) to staging false flags to justify military action (Operation Northwoods) to controlling the media itself (Operation Mockingbird).
Somehow, the powers-that-be have managed to keep everyone in the dark about this stuff.
Or almost everyone. Knowledge of shady government programs is baked into meme culture, which never lost its suspicion toward the establishment.
Today, some of the most cutting critiques of power come from meme-makers.
A big reason the relationship between memers and political power has remained antagonistic is that making memes is a labor of love, mostly done for free. It’s impossible for meme-makers to sell out the same way news outlets have.
In the age of declining journalism and rampant censorship, memes will only grow more consequential.
No other form of media entertains and informs at the same level, allowing us to laugh at tyrants, keep informed of our changing world, and plug into the populist zeitgeist.
You might not need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, but it doesn’t hurt to have a good meme dealer.
Memes are the new underground.
Dogey Treats: News Bites
The majority of News Bites are moving to my Wednesday newsletter, which will be free for 48 hours before going behind a paywall. I’ll continue to cover Dogecoin news in the Monday newsletter. Subscribe now to receive Wednesday’s News Email straight to your inbox!
SpaceX informed GEC that the Doge-1 moon mission is now scheduled for No Earlier Than Q3 2023.
Jason Calacanis of the All-In Pod acknowledged owning “a tiny amount” of Dogecoin.
Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev denied that his company has plans for an official partnership with Twitter. RH currently holds roughly 25% of all Dogecoins.
Thanks for reading! Consider sending a tip or Subscribing on Twitter to help keep the newsletter going!
Memes of the Week
It's ALL Risky!
Thank you, kind reader, for reading and subscribing to this newsletter. I really appreciate it!
If you haven’t already, please sign up to this email newsletter for more weekly articles like this one. Also, please share it with a friend or on twitter if you enjoyed this article.
What do you think? Are memes the new underground? Let me know!
Remember, Dogecoin is risky. But then again, it’s all risky!
Follow on twitter at @itsALLrisky
Send an email to itsALLrisky@gmail.com
Send a Doge tip: DJ2zTEdHBD3guHLfVaNBaypr6bHFG5Nwfw
This article was written in collaboration with @CryptoDogDivine, give them a follow!
Don't forget to subscribe to this newsletter!
Disclaimer: This is not financial advice and I am not a financial advisor. The article above references an opinion for entertainment purposes only and it is not investment advice. Always assume that the author of the article is actively trading and that the opinions expressed may be biased towards the author’s holdings. Do your own research and consult with a licensed financial adviser before making any investment decision. Do not treat any opinion expressed in this newsletter as a specific inducement to make a particular investment. Content, news, research, tools, and securities symbols are for educational and illustrative purposes only and do not imply a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell a particular security or cryptocurrency or to engage in any particular investment strategy. The information provided is not warranted as to completeness or accuracy and is subject to change without notice. The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, are not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness, do not reflect actual investment results and are not guarantees of future results. All investments involve risk, losses may exceed the principal invested, and the past performance of a security, industry, sector, market, cryptocurrency, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Dogecoin is a speculative and highly volatile asset susceptible to pump-and-dump schemes.
At the time of publication, Dogecoin is around $0.08 per coin.