If you use Facebook, or Twitter, have a Wi-Fi connection, watch television or have been to an office Halloween party, you’ve probably encountered them: internet memes.
These shareable, sometimes pithy and often puerile units of culture have emerged as the lingua franca of the 2016 election, and have given the American people an entirely new way of articulating their beliefs. Clinton’s top tweet is a meme. Trump’s taco bowl became one. Through memes, Ted Cruz was “unmasked” as the Zodiac killer. Jeb Bush’s limp plea for applause got him Vined into oblivion. Bernie Sanders shared a moment with a bird that blossomed into something out of Walt Disney’s long-lost Marxist phase.
Memes can be fun, or they can be dumb – but as an emerging medium, they haven’t provoked a lot of debate or analysis. In fact, they seem to defy scrutiny.
And slowly, before anyone can even take note, memes are ruining democracy.