Ed Driscoll

Muggeridge's Law Goes Meta

Deceiver.com: “Internet Memes Totally Annoying, Says The Onion Editor.”

Guess who penned this criticism of internet memes in the Washington Post this week?

What used to be an amusing byproduct of Internet use has mutated into something horrible: an insatiable parasite that impairs its host’s judgment, rendering it totally useless. Instead of acting as an organic cultural touchstone, the modern meme — from LOL, which hasn’t been used to signify physical laughter since 1997, to Lolcats — now sucks the joy out of our interconnectedness. It destroys uniqueness. Once an “enjoyable thing” becomes a “meme,” we stop enjoying the thing for its own sake, but consume and regurgitate our enjoyment of it as a symbol of hipness, as if to say: “I am aware of this thing’s popularity — therefore I, too, exist!” …

Life on the Internet moves too fast. There’s no time to let experience meet friction, or to absorb and truly reconstitute information. So slow down, breathe, and appreciate what’s real in life.

If you guessed Joe Randazzo, the editor of TheOnion.com, you’re probably psychic. Or you read the headline, which Randazzo knows better than anybody is usually the best part of the story.

Just as a quick refresher, here’s the definition of Muggeridge’s Law, which I paraphrased from Tom Wolfe’s mid-1970s anthology, The New Journalism:

When Malcolm Muggeridge was the editor of the British satirical magazine Punch in the early 1960s, Khrushchev had announced he was going to tour England alongside its prime minister. Muggeridge wrote up a list of the silliest tour stops he could think of, and then put the article to bed, ready for publication. When the actual tour list was drawn up, he had to massively rewrite the article. At least half the tour stops in his satirical piece were actually on Khrushchev and the British PM’s agenda!

The Mobius Loop meta-ness of Randazzo’s statement has just put Muggeridge’s Law completely through the irony wormhole. I’m not quite sure if the lack of reality in this universe as we know it will survive.