An out of focus image of the US capitol
“US Capitol” by Mike J Maguire is licensed under CC BY 2.0

January 6 felt like a punctuation mark. The entire event was a shock to the system of our consciousness, a spectacle made for many media. The capitol rioters were armed with Livestream devices, many cosplaying in internet-formed-militia prepper-wear or donning cultish outfits or actualizing meme references.

To help us look…

A QR code menu with a table number card and a face mask
“Going to the restaurant in Mallorca in times of Covid-19: face mask and contactless menu with QR code” by verchmarco is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There, on the table, stood a tiny, laminated card with a QR code. On one side, it said “Menu” — on the other, “Drinks.” When we got the bill, at the bottom it said “No need to tip! We’ve included a service charge, just scan the code and pay.” …

Photo of a Birds Aren’t Real sticker on the back of a street sign.
“Birds Aren’t Real Sticker — Colorado” by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The post-truth era is fueled by nonstop information flows, historic access to knowledge, and unprecedented precarity of trust. On top of that, misinformation and conspiracy theories are amplified by our social media platforms. Even our news and our feeds have become so hyperpartisan they lead to unease and distrust.

Collectively…

MrBeast’s “$456,000 Squid Game in Real Life!

One of the best things about viral content is that it creates incredible academic fodder to dissect, analyze and lecture on. MrBeast’s Squid Game parody video has generated nearly as much course material for me as KONY 2012. Last week, when I criticized MrBeast and his work in one of…

I often ask myself why I still use Twitter. Twitter is an aging platform that refuses to fix its primary systemic problems like platforming some really bad actors and enabling disinformation. It is literally the preferred broadcast system for demagogues around the world, from President Trump to El Salvador’s President…

A dog gives side eye to the viral instagram challenge
A skeptical dog with the viral sticker

At least 4.1 million people participated in an Instagram viral trend on November 9 and 10. Post a picture of your pet and somehow, someone is going to plant a tree. The viral challenge grew exponentially, even though the climate activism offered little details of its follow-through.

We know now…

An artistic rendition of Salt Bae and a customer from a recent viral video
Salt Bae and the customer, a modern classic on TikTok — Art by bunny0jr

Fifteen years ago I started to study YouTube content and web television. It was at the dawn of a new era. New formulas, new characters, experimental television, no more gatekeepers! However, for the most part, web television was just television on the web.

Webseries were a type of new media…

Jamie Cohen

Digital culture expert and meme scholar. Cultural and Media Studies PhD. Internet studies educator: social good, civic engagement and digital literacies

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