The year is 2012, and we are living in the digital age. This is a time in which the ways we used to communicate, connect, share our ideas and beliefs; have all changed. Platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram, and Tumblr have changed the basic practices of human interaction. Now instead of simply spreading our messages through written text or verbally, be it on a land-line or in person, we have the ability to share our thoughts and ideas with a community consisting of billions of users throughout the web. This constant spread of new, old, and re-fabricated ideas and knowledge, about all different aspects of life, has given mankind a chance to take a look at the world through the perspective lens of countless other people and groups.
We may not agree on every one of their views, but there is something to be learned from this new found level of interconnectedness that we see online, whether we like it or not. User generated videos and blogs presenting legitimately educational information are less common on sites like Tumblr or Youtube than on ones like the Khan Academy.org. In 2006, a man named Salman Khan, used the concept of Youtube to post thousands academic videos on a number of disciplines to be viewed for FREE. This organization is a working model for what could eventually completely democratize our educations. This in itself is a huge way that Youtube has gone to change the way we see our education as being almost only obtained through physical academic institutions.
Academic education aside, another element of the internet that should be considered for the ways we learn about society even if they can often be offensive or distasteful to some. Internet Memes can teach us a lot about the way a mass community of users in a completely open participatory environment views certain pieces of culture. “An internet meme is a piece of culture that is propagated by remixing, reinterpreting and sharing various digital forms of media text, image, video or digital behavior.” Memes are created and remixed all of the time by people that are connected within the internet. This helps people feel as if they are belonging to something much larger than themselves and that is something that many people enjoy feeling.
One popular meme that comes to mind is the “Hipster Kitty”. This meme has been viewed nearly 800,000 times since 2009. The meme is expressive to the idea of hipsters, which is essentially someone who was into the trends before they were considered trendy. This applies to fashion, music, movies and other cultural aspects of life. People have hundreds upon hundreds of ways that they can poke fun at what a hipster is to them so being a part of this participatory community is vital to their sharing their jokes with the world.