Technology-enabled information sharing has revolutionized the business world. Videoconferences have begun to replace expensive travel and face-to-face meetings, while purveyors of everything from print media to music CD’s have had to adapt to the realities of the Digital Age.
When data travels at the speed of light, the paperboy just doesn’t cut it anymore as your go-to News Delivery Option.
Social media now have real impact on corporate and NGO decisions: witness the recent case in which a firestorm of Twitter- and Facebook-fed indignation forced the Susan G. Komen Foundation to reconsider their decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Regardless of your personal feelings on the Komen debacle, you’ve gotta admit that it showed how Media Electronica have changed the way things get done... or get criticized for the way they get done.
It also means that Andy Warhol’s oft-quoted comment about celebrity - “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” - has not only become a reality, it’s almost behind the times. These days it seems more like the world has a five-minute attention span for practically everything.
Submitted for your consideration, the recent Internet-driven phenomenae of planking, owling, storking, horsemaning, et alia. All of these forms of silliness are being superseded at an ever-increasing pace by even sillier behaviors.
Some of the new memes have been inspired by gridiron heroes. Perhaps the best known of these is Tebowing - imitating the posture of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow as he prays for divine assistance in his quest for victory. (Alas for Tim, sometimes when God answers our prayers, He says “No.”)
Tim Tebow demonstrates the posture that turned his name into an Internet Gerund. Photo © TebowingNation/Facebook.
According to TebowingNation, a Facebook group, to perform the act of Tebowing means “to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.”
Tebowing was bad enough, but in the wake of the New England Patriots’ loss in last Sunday’s Super Bowl, we now have a new meme: Bradying. That’d be mimicking the defeated posture of Patriots QB Tom Brady as he sat on the field, legs outstretched and head down, mourning an intercepted pass.
Abject misery: Tom Brady, knowing that he has failed to secure the Super Bowl XLVI title, decides to become an exemplar of Internet silliness instead.
Both Tebowing and Bradying seem to incorporate the element of Supplication Before a Higher Power. In Tebow’s case, it’s “Oh, Lord, please help me to win this game for Thy greater glory and the glory of my teammates... and, not incidentally, mine own.” Brady, meanwhile, is probably thinking, “Oh, Lord, why did you show your displeasure in this, Your servant, by allowing that ball to be snatched out of Gronkowski’s eager hands?”
But we Red Sea Pedestrians have been playing the Supplication Game far longer. Thousands of years, as a matter of fact. And so, I offer up a new Internet meme for your consideration:
Yours Truly, in chubbier days, demonstrates Tachanuning: We got yer abject humility right here!
Tachanun is the part of Jewish weekday liturgy in which, simply put, we ask the Eternal One to Play Nice and Not Smite Us, Pretty Please. Parts of it are recited while in a humble posture, head resting on arm (described as n’filat apayim, literally “falling upon one’s face.”)
Like Tebowing or Bradying, Tachanuning involves striking a pose of abject humility - yet it has the advantage of not requiring that one kneel or sit upon the ground. It’s easy enough to adapt it for an Internet meme, don’tcha think?
I figure if Tachanuning catches on, I can be world-famous for about three minutes - that appears to be the going rate these days.
Update: Kevin Kim offers a thoughtful analysis of the ever-accelerating Internet meme lifecycle.