Category Archives: chill

Memes of Our Adolescence: A Memoir of Growing Up on the Internet

When I was in elementary school, I attended speech therapy; usually grouped with students from the Special Ed class, we played games which emphasized specific sounds. I had trouble pronouncing r’s and s’s and t’s and v’s and d‘s and nearly every other letter. In fourth grade, I recall entering the speech therapy office (located near the back of the school) to see computers waiting, their screens bright and displaying the start menu of some game which would help us. Already, I was quite familiar with computers; we used them twice a week in Computer class (I’m not sure what it was called then), completing online quizzes to test our mathematical and literary skills. At home, the situation was no different.

elementary-computer-lab

My parents purchased  a bevy of computer-based games for our family monitor, and the ones I can recall most sharply were named The Clue Finders. Each iteration of the game was designed for a different grade level: in one game, The Clue Finders explores Ancient Egyptian temples and in the next underground grottos housing dangerous volcanoes, and so on. We also had access to the internet, the dial-up internet, which required a series of squawks and guttural churning, like someone preparing to hawk a lugie (name for a wad of snot and spit and mucous collected at the back of one’s throat and projected across a room).

screen800x500

Not long after, when I was in seventh or eighth grade, my parents purchased high-speed wifi, and gone were the days of discordant dialing-in. Gone were the days when one must log off line before your mother could use the telephone. Gone were the days of the Dewey Decimal System, which elementary school librarians attempted in vain to teach us. But by the time my generation came about, this system was dead. Dead as disco.

So we grew up on the Internet. Technology played an important role in our adolescence, shaping us in more ways than one.

This was the beginning of a new generation, and by the time we reached high school, we had mastered technology in such ways our parents could never understand. The generation of Four-Loko-fueled YOLO. The generation of secret Tumblr accounts, sharing messages with strangers.

In ninth grade, I recall a particularly interesting phenomenon known as Mystery Google. One typed in any phrase and were instead transported to another person’s search. This allowed us to share our social media profiles like the Bubonic Plague. At the time, I had just begun recording videos of myself to put on Youtube (a strange adolescent trend), and Mystery Google allowed me to accumulate views. More importantly, my life would be slowly translated to video and uploaded to Youtube. Two years later, I would begin writing blogs. We were hooked, plugged-in to the ether of the nether-webs like no generation before.

vlogger

And now there will be another shift. The next generation will never play Spin the Bottle without the IPhone app; they will never discover pornographic magazines in their houses but rather delve into the sexual world via the Internet. I mean, imagine the simple consequences of something as strange as Chatroulette—what will we learn growing up in this world where smut and sin and secrets are merely the currency of the online world?

screen568x568

What I find most intriguing, however, about the generation of students both in university and in high school is the proliferation of memes. The word memes, of course, applies beyond its Internet meaning: a meme is a re-occurring idea or theme within culture. According to the All-Knower and Grab-Bag-Research-Tool-Of-Our-Times Wikipedia, a meme “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”.

We have been able, then, to create a shorthand of memes: pictures with captions. When one sees Kermit The Frog Drinking Tea or Skeptical Willy Wonka or Grumpy Cat, we understand what sort of message will be depicted. We understand the context of the idea, allowing text to build upon this foundation of knowledge.

troll.me-images-ryan-gosling-hey-girl-i-love-the-way-you-eat-that-bacon-sandwich

Memes, then, much in the same vein of art (films, books, philosophy) serve as a cultural shorthand. We have crafted a universal and complicated slang that might surpass the slangs of previous eras; no longer too may this slang, whether they be words or memes, remain regional. We understand each other, our generation, in ways that are intimate, encompassing, and really, really weird.

And we know what that sound means, you know the one, the sound of a train crashing through your house, that nuclear siren that announces the Internet’s imminent arrival. The sound of dial-up that might as well been our toddler lullaby. An idea we need not speak in order to understand.

Dial-Up

Advertisements

Thoughts On Endings at Dawn

As I drove home this morning at six, I watched the sun rise, the peach-skin skies revealing the sillouhette of a continent of overcast clouds. Leaving out in the dark, I drove and soon looked out the window to see the sky pinker, brighter. You’re left wondering how this happened, so slowly, yet so fast, as if you haven’t even been paying attention. Life’s changes act much like the sky during dawn or evening; we cannot perceive the light changing but it always is. And suddenly as we’re driving, we look up to see that everything around us is different.

As I approach my 24th hour of being awake, I am remarkably conscious and alert. Perhaps much calmer after physically exhausting myself. As far as definite turning points in our lives, graduation could count as one of them. Last night at 8, my school filed across a stage to receive diplomas, and we turned our tassels on our caps to finally become these new people. As if we were supposed to feel different, more grown up, gaining like Spider Man strange super powers like a complete understanding of microeconomics.

But changes don’t come like that, a simple radioactive spider bite and you’re changed. Growing up is as slow and difficult as the DMV.

After graduating, the community held Project Graduation which provided us with endless entertainment for the night including inflatable obstacle courses, jousting stations, a very impressive buffet, a dance rave, raffles, gambling, and free spa massages.

What should have made me pass out has instead invigorated me and instilled me with a sense of calm. I drove away, dropped off a friend at his house, and drove to my own. I opened my laptop to write simply because calmness puts me in the writing mood. There is a certain time of night when I lose my mind and begin to babble, losing sanity. Then that passes and I become simply calm and again awake. Right now, I here family members waking from their beds.

Today, when I wake from the heavy sleep that will come, I may post something else about what happens next: the future. For now, however, I’m thinking only of the past and how this past and future converge at an uncertain dawn. We live so ardently in that past, look up and realize that the sky is turning pinker, brighter. Things have changed, and we haven’t even noticed.

I only wanted to give my first impressions after the night’s festivities. I cannot quite even understand how wakefulness will work, whether my energy will suddenly drop out from under me like a trap door. Like a narcoleptic, I’ll fall violently into dreams. It’s nearing seven. Morning is here finally, full and bright, and writing this, I could not even observe its exact changes, only its general.

Because I am going on vacation, I probably will not blog for about six days. Or perhaps I will be inspired by the sea to write, and the sea tends to be quite inspiring, I believe. Class of 2012, make sure to take a look around. Savor the moments because while you look away, they pass and things have changed.

Mutli-Cultural Reading: Spoken Word Poems

Below is a video of my performance at the multi-cultural open mic. I read two poems called “A Savage Yawp” and “American.”

I hope you enjoyed these poems, seriously. I might post videos of other performances of either separately. The second poem is defintiely one of my favorite.

The open mic was hosted by LadyVee DaPoet, as part of Poetry Matters. Poet Big Bailey videotaped this performance and posted it. Many thanks to him. You can find his channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/BiGBaileysBeats

Thanks for watching and reading.

Would You Read This?

Book Snobs Are Snobby

Review: Misfits, Series 2

Poetry/Music Open Mic

If you’re looking for something to do tonight in the CSRA area, swing down to the Augusta boardwalk where we’ll performing at an open mic. It will be held at the ampitheare right there next to the river. Bonus: I’ll be the co-MC for the night, and I will be performing poetry. The performances are probably going to be videotaped and will eventually find their way onto this blog. Exciting? I think so. Come out for a great night of music and poetry.

Most exciting news, I’ll perform a poem by my all-time favorite poet: Shane Kocyzan. What? You’ve never heard his awesome poetry? Well, let me introduce you…

Poem: Bare Knuckle Chalkboard Punches

This poem is for anyone who has ever been a teacher or been taught, who has ever been through the American education system and emerged alive. This poem is for you. Enjoy.

I read this poem last Wednesday at Sit-a-Spell Cafe which is located on Broad Street in Augusta. They hold an open mic every other Wednesday. and soon, I’ll be MC-ing. More on that later! For now, I hope you enjoy my work. Still working on getting an agent for my novel and publishing that book of poetry.

All of that news is uber exciting! I hope you enjoy the poem; please comment below.

Sometimes, I get very passionate while reading.

“Just Chilling” Is Not Chill, Bro