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When An Internet Meme Fails


It happens. Sometimes internet memes are created and they last about as long as Lindsay Lohan’s career. They seem to have this instant love, a joke that people find incredibly funny and then take too far. The most recent culprit is the “arrow in the knee” internet meme.

This internet meme was created as soon as the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was released, making fun of a line that guard says to the player; “I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee.” It was noted by players because of the sometimes repetitive nature of the sound clips in the game and the first half was often replaced by a variety of actions and thoughts, like “I used to think this meme was funny, then I took an arrow in the knee.” Now, in just literally 2 months time, the meme has become a source of hatred, aggression and frustration. If you say it, you may be verbally abused in a forum or at the very least, receive several eye rolls.

How does an internet meme go from hilarious to hated in just weeks? Well in the case of this meme, it was two fold. One was the misquoting of the originally line. Somehow, the meme turned into “yadda yadda yadda, then I took an arrow TO the knee”, and of course elitists wanted to argue about how it was “in” instead of “to” and so anyone who used the wrong word was mocked mercilessly. The other failing, which is the death of most memes, is repetition. All internet memes show up in a multitude of ways but when gets repeated several thousand times in just a couple of days, it’s a surefire way for it to be hated by most of humanity. Take the “cake is a lie” or “Leeeeroy Jenkins!” memes. Both, while funny at first, became the kind of phrase that, when uttered ,would make people’s skin crawl.

A current meme that is seemingly going down that route is the “S$ #! X-Group of People Say” videos. It started simply enough with the things girls say and is now spiraling out of control into all varieties of races, sexualities, people residing in different locations, and fictional characters. If we don’t take a breather from it soon, the next time someone posts one of these videos on their Twitter feed, you might find yourself wanting to punch your computer monitor.

So what’s the key to a successful meme? Not over-killing it. Use it when it seems justified, use it when people aren’t expecting it, then let it cool off for a bit. Don’t run around in every chat room, forum and Facebook post, throwing it around because it makes you look “cool”. You’ll be doing your favorite meme a service by letting it last just a bit longer.

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