The Barest of things...
“What the hell are you doing?” is a question I will often ask my son as he stares mindlessly into his phone. He is clearly not talking to anyone, texting, or watching anything and his hands are too still to be playing any kind of game. The answer is almost always “memes”.
Yes, my remarkably intelligent almost-13 year old son can seemingly waste hours of his life scrolling through meme after endless meme. If I ask him what he did at school today, however, he usually says something along the lines of “I dunno” or “I can’t remember” as he kicks back in the recliner to scroll the pages of something called iFunny, I believe. Dare I suggest he read a book and he looks at me like I have suggested we wrestle porcupines just for the fun of it.
This has been going on long enough and I was starting to feel like he would have seen all the memes already and begin to lose interest. I do not know how many memes are on the interwebs but there has to be a finite number and at this rate we must be getting close to it, right? Curiosity got the best of me and I finally did a meme search of my own, mostly interested in who makes these stupid things and why.
Naturally, the answer was the same as that of most of life questions about why anyone does anything: Money.
The business of memes, it seems, is a lucrative one that is still brimming with untapped potential. Google searches on things like “the business of memes” and “are memes profitable” returned more reading material than I cared to immerse myself in. At a brief glance, though, I realized that I am in the wrong business.
It turns out that corporate marketing departments are seeing the advertising benefits of memes and are incorporating them into their advertising strategies. The viral nature of the meme is a valuable one and companies are paying handsomely for their acquisition. Content that is clever and makes a brand look “hip” to the interests of the younger generation is marketing gold and they cannot get their hands on enough of it, apparently.
Once an individual establishes themselves as a quality meme-maker with a proper following, things get kind of ridiculous. Take 26 year old Elliot Tebele, who is otherwise known on Instagram as “FuckJerry” who I apparently had never heard of until five minutes ago. Somehow a guy who posts funny pictures and quotes to an Instagram account has over 13 million followers and charges upwards of $30,000 every time he posts sponsored content. Forbes estimates that this “business model” will generate between $1.5 and $3 million in the next year.
And here I just thought memes came from stupid people posting stupid pictures of cats for children and mornons to laugh at. Silly me.
So that’s it for me, we are going into the family meme business. Whether he knows it or not, the Boy has done enough research to know what memes work and which ones do not. I am confident in my ability to make snarky, dumbed down sentences for mass consumption, and the internet has plenty of stock photos for me to comment on, preferably with a cocktail within reach. If all goes according to plan, I should be purchasing my first private island by the time you read this.
Here’s to new adventures in 2018. Meme, I mean Fête, it be.