Tej Gidvani
Commentary

The prospect of making money on the Internet has been around since it first became public domain, but only in the past decade have Internet fame and Internet celebrities become common. The magical thing about the Internet is that it allows anything the ability to become popular, from fads to memes.

The things that start on the Internet and gain fame eventually exist offline and become relevant to modern culture as a whole. Over the years we have seen this happening more.

Most Internet fame and popularity belong to memes, sayings or anything that the collective body of Internet users rallies behind. Memes are concepts — images, phrases or jokes — that spread from person to person over the Web. They are usually created through the intentions of mimicry and mockery, but through that they rally a huge following and usually get ingrained as big parts of culture.

For instance the troll face is an extremely popular image. This is a picture that was conceived on the Internet and stuck. Another image meme that has spread through the Web is the doge. This meme originated when a peculiar looking image of a Shiba Inu, a Japanese dog breed, was posted and the word dog was misspelled as doge. The image inspired people to make creative variations of the photo with silly words or phrases layered in the image.

Without the Internet, an aspect of culture as seemingly meaningless as this may have never come around. The ability to reference these things offline and have people understand is an example of how the Internet is shaping modern culture. In the case of both these memes as well as many others, not a lot of monetary profit, if any, is made. In other cases though, the payout for creating something that people of the Internet love can be extravagant.

Last year, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was one of the largest Internet fads. The Ice Bucket Challenge spread awareness about Lou Gehrig’s disease and raised more than $100 million for ALS research. If this campaign had been executed through some other means such as television, it may have received more viewership by typical demographics, but the nature of the Internet allowed people to participate, thereby sharing the experience with more people.

Grumpy Cat is one of the most well-known memes. This meme originated when an owner of a cat with an underbite and feline dwarfism posted its picture. Due to those physical conditions, the cat always looks like it is grumpy, therefore giving it the name Grumpy Cat. The popularity of this picture caused the cat to gain a following of fans that not only wanted more pictures, but actual merchandise, giving the owner more cash inflow.

The Internet is increasingly shaping and molding our culture. Its creative nature has allowed popular ideas and creations to emerge from nothing and spread into modern life offline.