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If you haven’t figured it out by now, popular things tend to be dumb and vice versa.
Modern society is pretty dumb. We all know this. It’s why the brilliant and critically beloved The Last Man on Earth was recently axed by Fox to pave the way for the zombified reincarnation of Tim Allen’s huffing and grunting Last Man Standing. So brings us the new “we live in a society” meme to populate Twitter, which perfectly illustrates how dumb things are popular and how genius too often goes unnoticed.
The meme seems to have started over the weekend when Twitter user @660th posted a tweet featuring Mickey Mouse, seemingly lavished in likes and comments on social media, alongside an intricate drawing of a real mouse which goes ignored.
We live in a society pic.twitter.com/jsOS7ppRHr
— fleur. (@660th) May 12, 2018
From there, others picked up on it, using the meme to compare a spectrum of pop culture and digital culture.
We live in a society pic.twitter.com/QpwDFKqkIh
— marbs (@bonerman_inc) May 15, 2018
we live in a society pic.twitter.com/rOhwwm7BA1
— d (@skinnyong) May 16, 2018
Others used the meme to rate music—everything from My Chemical Romance albums to songs by the South Korean boy band BTS.
we live in a society (pls tell me no one has done this yet) pic.twitter.com/7URwuVcyKR
— Ahn Yujin Lovers HQ (@jkooksana) May 15, 2018
As for the possible origin of the meme, well, somehow that’s even a bit more depressing. In 2014, the Vancouver street artist iHeart gained global notoriety (including the attention of Banksy) for a piece called “Nobody Likes Me” in the city’s Stanley Park. The artwork featured a small boy crying, with the same glaring, red social media bubbles over his head indicating that no one was paying attention.
Unfortunately, as the piece garnered attention on social media, the entire point was lost in the wash, as iHeart told the Huffington Post at the time.
“I see people walking down streets barely glancing up from their devices. Digitally we’re hyper-connected and yet so disconnected from each other,” he told me. “There’s almost too much irony that happened with this piece. Posting it on Instagram, Facebook, my website, and Twitter, then it going viral. Basically the idea behind the piece completely backfired.”
Suffice to say, iHeart probably isn’t a fan of the new life the “we live in a society” meme has breathed into his misunderstood creation.
Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.