Topic 5: Social Networks

Perhaps the most prominent and well-known of all online formats of communication is social networks. These websites have been a staple feature since the early years of the Internet, and are one of the oldest methods of online communication. Since online communication is what social networks are designed for, this is what most people think of when considering online communication. In the early years of the Internet and online social networks, these websites were not significantly different from, say, written letters or postage. Some of the earlier social networks, like AOL or Myspace were designed simply for sending messages or reading articles. As the years have gone by and the Internet has continued to grow and evolve, so to have the different social networks, particularly within the last decade. Newer, more interactive social networks have arisen, including Gmail, YouTube, FaceBook, and Twitter.

In the past, social networks were designed and used for much simpler functions than they are today. With the introduction of social networks like YouTube and FaceBook, social networks have evolved and diversified considerably. For example, YouTube is a social media that is heavily video oriented; people can post videos and socialize and interact about the videos by commenting on them. FaceBook is an example of a more well-rounded social network; FaceBook allows its users to make text-based, picture-based, or video-based posts, as well as several others. What social networks do you use? How have these social networks impacted how you communicate online/offline?


Topic 4: Virility

When it comes to setting and spreading trends, virility is one of the characteristics that makes the Internet stand out over all other previous trend-spreading formats. With the development of video networks like YouTube and social networks like FaceBook, the phenomenon of “going viral” has become a key feature of how trends spread through the Internet. The phrase, “going viral” typically refers to trends that gain popularity and spread at an exponential rate within a very short amount of time. When it comes to trends “going viral”, no formats can carry this out as efficiently as the Internet.

Prior to the invention of the Internet, trends still existed and spread through different, perhaps more primitive ways. Through newspapers, television, and simple gossip, trends spread at a rate that, back then was the quickest a trend could spread, but now might seem very slow. With the invention of the Internet into modern society, the rate at which trends are able to popularize has skyrocketed. The video website known as YouTube provides a most well-known example of how something can go viral in, seemingly, the blink of an eye. For example, in July of 2012, South Korean music artist Psy posted the music video on YouTube of his song Gangnam Style. Within the next five months, the video became the most viewed video ever on YouTube, with over a billion views. Gangnam Style‘s virility does not stop there; a few years later, the video literally “broke” YouTube by surpassing the number of views that the website was capable of counting. This issue has since been fixed and the video continues to gain views, currently at just under two and a half billion views. What role does virility play in how people communicate on the Internet?


Topic 3: Trends

Trends have been a staple feature in social media for decades, centuries even. Trends are certain fashions, activities, topics, etc. that gain mass popularity through the utilization of widespread publicity. Almost all trends are temporary. As new trends spread, older trends fall out of use. Although the longevity of a trend can vary, trends tend to follow this same pattern. When a new trend becomes popular, it is practiced, adopted, or incorporated en masse by the majority of the communities in which it has been publicized and popularized. A trend stays in fashion for a while but, over time, it gradually gets used less and less. Eventually, a new trend is popularized and, for the most part, replaces the old trend. The Internet is, without a doubt, the most efficient trend-spreading instrument to date.

It could be argued that the Internet, itself, is a trend. While most of the trends spread through the Internet are temporary, the Internet as a whole would be considered an exception to this commonality. Over the years, as the Internet has evolved, increasing its range of capabilities and functions, people have been using it more and more to spread trends. For example, in 2014, one of the most prominent and popular trends was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. For anyone who does not know, this trend involved posting a video of oneself dumping a bucket of ice water on their head and donating one thousand dollars to a fundraiser for the research on a cure for the disease known as ALS, before nominating three other people to do the same. One person nominating three people caused this trend to spread exponentially in less than a year. This trend was also an example of how trends are not only used for entertainment or popularity, but are also used to rally people behind a good cause. What are some other unique trends that have been spread through use of the Internet?


Topic 2: Memes

Memes are a peculiar feature of the Internet. In some ways, they are related to Internet slang. For example, many memes involve, or incorporate, phrases of Internet slang. Also, like Internet slang, memes are most commonly practiced in the less formal and professional field of online communication. However, while Internet slang is strictly literary, memes are defined as an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the Internet.

One commonality among Internet memes is the use of images that accompany their text. These images are often visual representations or physical manifestations of the joke or message in a meme’s text. For example, the meme known as “do not want” often includes an image of a well-known person or character making a repulsed expression along with the caption, “do not want”.

Many memes represent a very specific reaction or situation that someone may encounter online. Because of this, many of the Internet users that are familiar with memes utilize them to express their reaction to an object, situation, or event. Returning to the “do not want” meme, someone might utilize this meme if they experience something either online or offline that they find disturbing, repulsive, or offensive. This is just one example of how people use memes to communicate on the Internet. What are some other memes that people use, or ways that people use memes?


Topic 1: Internet Slang

Every community and culture, both online and offline, contains its own unique traits, practices, and mannerisms. At their cores, they may share the same basic principles, such as ethics, beliefs, or communication. However, these aspects can vary heavily from community to community. Language is a prime example of these highly variable aspects of community.

Within a community, language can develop in specific ways that are exclusive to that community’s particular culture or society. This is proven by the existence of slang. Slang refers to any language, phrases, or words that are used only by an exclusive group. With so many diverse groups and communities on the Internet, there is now an overwhelming amount of slang used by these online groups and communities. For example, many Internet slang phrases come from the abbreviations of other phrases. “Laughing out loud” is expressed as “LOL” on the Internet. “Be right back” is expressed as “BRB”. “I don’t know” becomes “IDK”. Simple abbreviation makes up a sizeable portion of Internet slang. Simplicity and simplification plays a major role in Internet slang. Just as with the abbreviation of short phrases, longer words or phrases are also often shortened or abbreviated. For example, “thanks” is often spelled “thx”. However, since the Internet, and its many communities, are so vast and diverse, there are surely many more slangs with different rules and mannerisms. What are some examples of some other mannerisms of Internet slang?


Welcome to Net Talk

If you are reading this, I would first like to welcome you to my new blog, Net Talk. I created this blog for a project assigned by one of my college classes. This blog will be focusing on the different methods, mediums, and formats in which people communicate on the Internet, as well as how the Internet impacts language, writing, and communication in general. Over the course of the next week and a half, I will be discussing some of the specific aspects, issues, and phenomena about online communication. Each post will discuss one specific topic; I will make key points about each topic and express my own opinion about them. However, I also want to hear any points or opinions that other people would be willing to share. I will conclude my post on each topic with a question or prompt for you to consider in your response. I would like each response to be at least one paragraph (5-6 sentences), but feel free to write up to three paragraphs. Once again, welcome to Net Talk, and thank you for offering to help me with my project.