Every so often, perhaps when I’m waiting for a phone call, or I want to pick a scab but I have none on my body, I read comment sections. And sometimes, when I am filled with self-loathing in addition to a scab-picking urge, I also read Facebook comment sections. Consequently, I have developed some thoughts about memes.
Before anyone had ever heard of the world wide web, I first heard meme described as “a viral idea.” That is, those things that pop up overnight, that suddenly everyone is repeating, usually with a “you know, they say…” but you can’t really trace where they came from. When did we all stop sneezing into our hands and start sneezing into our elbows? When did we stop calling the seventh planet from the sun YER-inus when we all grew up calling it Yer-ANUS? Why is every newscaster suddenly pronouncing “negotiate” like a Brit, when we don’t say it that way in American English?
(I had an editor who liked to inventory cartoon memes, visual shorthand that we all understand, somehow: A character wearing a mirror strapped to a headband is a doctor. A body lying on a bench with crosses for eyes is dead. And ask yourself: When have you ever slipped on a banana peel?)
Then “meme” was overtaken by the internet, and now it means “a picture with words on it.” Preferably a picture of a cat. But not always! Some are very funny. I will never get tired of the woman screaming at the cat, and even the distracted boyfriend still dislodges a good gag from time to time. But others…aren’t. Anyway, I see a lot of memes dropped into Facebook comments, many so crude and stupid that I’ve come to the conclusion that memes are like a primitive form of language for some, generally people too stupid to write a simple sentence or think of a halfway creative insult or joke themselves. If I’m looking over a page I have admin privileges on, I will sometimes just delete them willy-nilly, if only to encourage people to have an original thought from time to time.
I should add this doesn’t work.
Change of subject: The news of Marjory Taylor Greene’s formal punishment broke a while ago. It made me think we need to talk about CrossFit. Greene, of course, owned a CrossFit gym — or “box,” as those people call them — in Georgia before she made it to Congress.
Some years ago, the owner of my gym subleased a corner of it to a CrossFit trainer for a while. His clientele all wore short-shorts and tube socks, and made a lot of noise — big roars when they lifted, that sort of thing. I asked a trainer on the regular gym staff what the hell was it with those people. He nearly sprained his eyeballs rolling them and said, “It’s a cult. And they’re assholes.”
The trainer eventually found his own “box” and took his tube-sock people with him. But I started noticing CrossFit stories in the media. One in the Wall Street Journal detailed how CrossFitters often had trouble finding pants that fit, because their quads were so big. Another was about how some CrossFitters get rhabdomyolysis, a potentially serious condition that can damage the kidneys, because they work out so hard. (They had a jokey name for it: Uncle Rhabdo.) And then there were stories about how the founders of the business had launched “the CrossFit Games,” an event people actually paid to watch in arenas and on pay-per-view, in which the contestants…exercise. Wow, how fun.
Now, I should add I’ve known some perfectly lovely people who do CrossFit and swear by it, but I’ve known more who were assholes. What is it about a workout that attracts assholes? Yoga has its constituency, combat sports have theirs, swimming has its own, Zumba/Pilates/powerlifting, etc. What is it about working out in a box that attracts — or produces — Marjory Taylor Greenes? We need to talk about this.
But the weekend is nigh. So let’s enjoy that at the same time. We’re having a snowstorm right now — fat fluffy flakes all night long.