Vincent Levine is a 56-year-old retired schoolteacher who loves memes, Facebook, and his family, in that order. And it’s impossible not to wonder, as his addiction plays out in this ten-minute video, how he is the way he is. Don’t get me wrong, this may be my favorite video on the internet (Vindog, please don’t meme me off the internet. Nothing but respect). But somewhere in the glee of Vindog talking about alphabetizing his memes to make them more readily available to meme people to death, in the midst of those smiles and chuckles, I asked myself, how the hell does this happen?
To answer this question, I think we need to go to the movie that serves as the warning and answer to all technology issues, Jurassic Park. In a great scene, Jeff Goldblum- or whatever his character’s name is- warns the spared-no-expense guy that the technology the park is wielding is a problem because, “It didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took it for yourselves. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves.” Too true, Jeff Goldblum, too true. Now, if only he could tell my Grandma this so she stops posting in all caps.
If only we could sit him in front of an entire generation of people who were handed the internet when they still didn’t know how to use a personal computer, who wanted to use Facebook before they could download the app for themselves. They “were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” I love Vindog because he is the embodiment of all of those we know and love who found a niche on the internet even though it wasn’t meant for their purposes, like a homeless man asleep in the doorway of a store you need to enter. So content, while making us all so miserable.
This becomes evident as the video swaps back and forth between Vindog explaining his meme war strategy (he starts with the good memes and moves to the best ones) and his family voicing their annoyance at his Facebook usage. There is something profound in one of his sons saying that if he blocked his dad, he would probably receive the memes in the mail. We can all picture it happening. We have all helped a parent, relative, or friend-often old but sometimes young- maneuver the inner-workings of some social media platform, only to have them turn around and wield it for ‘evil’ rather than good. Many of us have had to secretly block someone we love from our feed to avoid the political fallout, idiotic content, or incessant nature of their posts. But maybe that shouldn’t be held against them.
Most of us, at this point, grew up with the internet and social media. We made our mistakes and decided that they were mistakes together. We learned that certain posts were unacceptable and that a certain amount of posting is too much. Vindog didn’t learn these lessons with the rest of us. He didn’t get an opportunity to make these mistakes and autocorrect with the rest of the world. He found Facebook and discovered memes relatively recently on the lightning fast timeline of technology. And therefore, his enthusiasm for this discovery is as hot as ours was when we first logged onto Facebook. We were all like this at one point, we just grew out of that phase together through self-regulation, and now we have convinced ourselves that this man-made etiquette has turned the Internet into something different than Dancing Hamsters and I Haz Cheezburger, as if we ascended to some higher plain of virtual existence. But we haven’t. The Internet is still the same place.
If only we all could be Vindog again, pecking away with two fingers on our keyboards, enjoying social media for the simple pleasures rather than using it to develop our moral commentary. If only we could fall in love with it all over again and have Vindog’s joy as he brags about having every meme on the internet and his excitement for the “right top…little ‘1’” that causes him to get out of bed and hit refresh over and over and over again.
As we watch Vindog explain his love for his arsenal of memes, let it serve as a reminder not to take anything or anyone too seriously on our feeds. We have gazed on the internet’s true face. And it looks a lot like Vindog. He knows how fun the internet can be. He is willing to exploit it for his maximum enjoyment and, rather than bickering and fighting and dissenting, this is probably what we should do too. Because he doesn’t want to do it, he really doesn’t, but if he has to, and if you poke the wrong bear, Vindog will click that folder, start with the good memes and move to the best ones, and meme you off of the internet entirely.
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