As I had mentioned in my last post, I had seen the movie for A Clockwork Orange years ago and enjoyed it. What I hadn’t done until last week was actually read the book that inspired it. Reading this book gave me more to think about than I was expecting. This book published just over fifty years ago made me think about internet memes.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Anthony Burgess’s novel is a glaring critic of youth culture making the main character a young leader of a four man gang. Everything Alex, the main character, does is full of excessive violence and frivolous acts. The author, having written the characters as criminals actually succeeds in suggesting that choosing to do evil acts is more human than doing good acts without the ability to choose.
Not all of my generation are hyper violent criminals, but while reading I realized that there is something that my friends and myself share with the protagonist. Language. In the book, all the wayward youth speak something called Nadsat. This is a mishmash of English and Russian slang mixed together with mistranslated words and entirely made up words. The most famous example being that the boys call good things ‘Horrorshow’, a purposeful corruption of the Russian word ‘Khorosho’, meaning good. Most of what Alex says in the first chapter is near impossible to understand on a first reading.
This is similar to internet culture, or cultures, since it can be argued that their are many different ones. There are web forums and chat rooms full of so much slang and newly invented terms that it’s nearly impossible to understand, and with users never keeping to just one site for long we see memes spread like a virus across the net. Looking at these conversations is just like reading this book. Here’s an example:
>be year 2010+4 >OP makes SJW post >No fucks given >This is now a spiderman thread >Top Lel
I understood that.
The only difference is that we don’t speak these memes as much in everyday life as Alex does in his, but even that seems to be changing. I have heard people say ‘lol’ in real life for a while now, and even though I am against throwing memes around in public because it sounds silly, it’s going to happen. We could end up seeing a spoken, modern equivalent to Nadsat. Whether or not this is a good thing is a debate all in itself.