by: Adam Hostetter/Sports and Entertainment Editor
Have you found yourself purposefully searching for demotivational posters? What if you frantically search for just the right meme for every situation in your life? Do your favorite pastimes include web comics, YouTube or Tumblr? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, strong chances are that you stare at your computer’s monitor for hours and have become part of the Internet’s culture separate from the physical culture where you live. Do not worry though; your computer will not suck you into an alternate universe where everyone communicates through pictures of cats with bread around their head. However, you may be addicted to the Internet and its ungodly powers of distraction.
The ‘Interwebz’ has held an increasingly large grasp on users for a while now, and a few items that originated from the internet have even created followings in the real world (think rage comics and YouTubers). Even so, can we really call the Internet’s wide array of comics, images, creepypastas, videos, forums and forever more an actual culture? Well, yes and no. The internet itself is so huge that it has become a medium for many people across the world to watch cats jump in and out of boxes. At the same time people are creating memes, jokes, Internet sensations, and everything you enjoy viewing and sharing through Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest. The Internet has gone so far beyond what it was originally used for that the world itself now has its own way of revolving around the portals into the virtual universe.
Even so, many people ignore all that and simply see the Internet for the tools it provides. Connecting with friends hundreds of miles away, shopping online, and learning new techniques to grow those vegetables in your garden are just a few examples of how people use the Internet. Some people have jobs entirely about marketing products exclusively on the Internet and, on a darker side, scammers have made a billion dollar business of crime. However, just because the Internet can be called a collection of tools and forums that people use, it does not mean this gathering cannot spawn the ideas and social norms of a culture. Many cult followings can be found only on the Internet. With such classics as “I herd u liek Mudkipz” and “I Can Has Cheezburger?” it is no wonder cyberspace is considered to have its own society.
Yet, even if one can deny the existence of a complete and separate culture belonging to the internet, no one can say that the internet has no effect on culture today. It simply is not true. Need examples? How many times have you checked Facebook this week? What about that Wikipedia article you looked up today? And what is with that kid that does nothing but stare at his smartphone? Just take a step back and look around. The internet is here to stay, and it is quickly becoming the place of many people’s second lives. So while the internet culture is not something with physical boundaries, the virtual borders it does have are close enough to make it real.