Monday, April 20, 2015

The birth of a meme

A few days ago, best-selling author Stephen King sent out a Tweet (pictured at left): “Cruz, Paul and Rubio, all running for President. Hey, I thought I was supposed to write the horror stories,” he wrote. I thought it was very funny, partly because I agree with him, but also because it was so quotable.

I knew what was coming next, and sure enough, someone took his words and turned it into a picture meme (below, right), ripe for social media sharing. People started posting it right away.

There’s nothing new about any of this, of course, and anyone who’s spent any time on Twitter, Facebook, etc., has probably seen this sort of thing shared, probably many times. But when I see them, I often wonder, first, if the quote is genuine, and second, how old it is. This was the first time I could watch one of these develop in real time.

I follow Stephen King on Twitter, so could have seen his Tweet as soon as he posted it (though I didn’t), but I did see the meme start popping up. So, I knew it was accurate, recent, and roughly when the meme began. I guess there really is a first time for everything.

This was not, however, a first for Stephen King. As Salon pointed out, King has sent several equally pointed political Tweets over the past couple months. Since I follow King, I know that he’s been doing it for a long time. Because of that, I can say I really agree with Salon when they wrote, “King might be famous for door-stopping scary novels, but we think he’s pretty great with 140 characters too.” He clearly gets the medium, and better than many others do.

In the case of this meme, we know it has a limited shelf life. As soon as Cruz, Paul, and/or Rubio drops out, the meme will be out of date. That doesn’t happen very often, either.

All of which is why I thought this was so interesting.

1 comment:

rogerogreen said...

You're right about one having to doubt the veracity of those picture memes. the late Andy Rooney used to be quoted in them all the time, until he'd been gone so long that no one new who he was.