Teh internet is serious business: on anons, normieification and neo-reactionary memes
Monday 11th of February, 17:00-18:30
At the fringes of an increasingly hegemonic platform economy, there exists another anarchic web of anonymous and pseudonymous forums that plays host to subcultures whose mantra that "the internet is serious business” harkens back to 90’s cyber-culture when it was said that "online nobody knows you're a dog”. Whilst supposedly devoted to an ironic spirit of play, in recent years forums such as 4chan have become entangled the growing movement of reactionary right culture online. This talk considers the emergence of these serious political movements out of this milieu. As memetic antagonisms and other forms of extreme vernacular speech have seemingly become normalized on various social media platforms, our aim is to trace their origins out of what we call “the deep vernacular web,” through capturing, analyzing and interpret the changing and ephemeral artifacts of these subcultures. To this end we will focus in particular on a process of what we call "normiefication", whereby these artifacts are translated from the subcultural milieus of 4chan, for example, into the mainstream of the Platformized web of social media. While the success of a "meme" has traditionally been seen as a function of its diffusion, the visual network analysis methods that we use take it as axiomatic that "there is no transport without translation". As such, this talk aims to describe the changing contexts within which the artifacts (and ideas) of reactionary right-wing political subcultures develop and travel as a means by which to hopefully begin to assess their serious political significance. With case studies of political memes like "kekistan," "pizzagate," or "(((them)))", we plan to outline some of the dynamics by which these subcultures constitute their imagined collective self-identity, sets of issues and antagonisms. How is it is that these memes travel, and what are the relationships between their initial anonymous authors, the “normies” (ourselves included), that give them attention?
This event is supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre. It is followed by a workshop with OiLab on the 12 of February 2019, please click on the link to the registration page for more information.