We live in a society


We Live in a Society. It’s a meme and common saying among Gen Z-ers, whether they know where it came from or not. And although I’m familiar with the meme and have used it myself, I didn’t really know it’s origin story in detail. So this week I went deep on the meme’s history and found some surprises in that research.

Typically connected to the Joker but always focusing on different aspects of culture that are in conflict – one popular and the other under acknowledged but complex – the meme has history in gamer culture, incel humor, woke satire, and even the Chinese Restaurant episode of Seinfeld. This meme is SO DEEP and tied to so many aspects of the past/present/future of the internet, it’s super hard to explain. You have to just kind of feel it.

As Janae Madden wrote, “If you aren’t aware of this meme – or have just come to accept you probably aren’t deep enough into the internet to get it – don’t worry, that’s the entire point of its appeal… Platforms like TikTok, 4chan, and Reddit thrive off this same exclusive community consciousness and, like Seinfeld, it can be difficult to penetrate them from the outside.

I feel that way about a lot of the social culture that’s fueling trends and movements these days. It’s increasingly hard to explain to those who were late to adopt (internet, message boards, instant messaging, SMS, social networks) and especially to those who are still avoiding TikTok in 2021.

Culture is both decentralizing into niche groups powered by individualized media and yet centralized around core themes fueled by a shared digital history not everyone understands or can fully comprehend. I suppose that’s what makes modern marketers great and keeps consultants like me in business. But it’s something I’m thinking more about – especially after a two week vacation and some time to really think and process.

So if there’s something in trending or subcultures today that you don’t understand whatsoever or are not feeling right now, that’s okay. We Live in a Society.

Here’s what else I’m tracking this week…

Pokémon Go Turned 5, and It’s Bigger than Ever: Just five years ago you could find people gathered at almost any city park, statue, and most Buffalo Wild Wings just staring at their phones and trying to “capture” hologram Pokemon characters you could only “see” with your phone. It was the most significant augmented reality (AR) adoption event of our lifetime, and the company behind it, Niantic Games, just posted its highest profit to date. There have been multiple spin-offs (Ghostbusters, Jurassic Park, Transformers), and the idea of using your phone to access a digital layer on the world is completely mainstream. Here’s to the next 5!

Everyone is Gaming Now: The U.S. gaming population is slightly more male and less racially diverse than the country as a whole, but it’s also growing. The answer to the question of who plays games in America is — with notable exceptions — gradually becoming “most people.” Key stats: 77% of gamers play with others every week, up from 65% the year prior. 74% of parents play with gamers with their children, up from 55% the year prior. What’s next? The rise of the gaming creator economy and social game-making, not just playing.

TikTok is Beating Facebook In Time Spent Per User: For the first time users are spending more time on TikTok than Facebook, with time spent on TikTok up 325% year-over-year, which means it’s now beating Facebook in terms of hours spent per user per month. Average time spent is up for nearly every app in every market, but few are up by as much as TikTok. TikTok ranks in the top 5 by time spent, and the rate at which it grew over the past year outpaces nearly every other app analyzed in the report. Before the end of 2021, expect TikTok to join Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, and China’s WeChat in 1B monthly active users.insta.singleA post shared by @insta.single

Geeky Reads of the Week: 1) How googly eyes solved one of today’s trickiest UX problems; 2) Meet the teens running fan pages for 2000s TV shows that aired when they were babies; 3) In 2030, You Won’t Own Any Gadgets; 4) People are breaking up with Apple Podcasts

Leadership Reads of the Week: 1) Seth Godin asks, “Magnetic or Sticky?”; 2) Austin Kleon points out the trap of using the phrase “Don’t get me wrong”; 3) How Working From Home Has Changed Employees; 4) I have ‘pandemic brain’. Will I ever be able to concentrate again?; 5) There’s a Specific Kind of Joy We’ve Been Missing; 6) The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures.

Quick Hits:

See you on the internet!