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LOLCats: What These Memes Mean to Us as A Culture

LOLCat

It was just a matter of time, but Kate Miltner is the first one we have heard of who has done an actual  dissertation on LOLCats. Ms. Miltner received her Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics after presenting her thoughts on the matter and also recently spoke on a panel called the “Adventures in Aca-meme-ia” at the ROFLCon III. And if you aren’t on the ROFLCon mailing list, it is a “internet culture conference” that celebrates the Internet memes and the internet born celebrity.

So what does LOLCats mean to us as a culture?

As the Atlantic mentions, “through studying these memes we can better understand what is going on in the collective mind of our culture.”  And it’s a cultural phenomenon that has spread.  “LOLCats,” Ms. Mitlner writes, “have spawned two best-selling books, a Bible translation, an art show, and an off-Broadway musical. LOLCats have also inspired the development of a massive international community.”

And the reason why people do LOLCats? According to Ms. Miltner, “When it came to LOLCats, sharing and creating were often different means to the same end: making meaningful connections with others.” The Atlantic added that, “at their core LOLCats weren’t about those funny captions, the weird grammar, or the cute kitties, but people employed those qualities in service of that primary goal of human connection.”

And the LOLCaters as Ms. Mitlner found — tend to be found in three groups of users.

1) The LOLCats diehards.
“They are invested LOLCat lovers whose interest in LOLCats generally stems from their affinity for cats,” she says. And they are very involved in I Can Haz Cheezburger, a site for the LOLCat-loving community. The users here tend to be women.

2) MemeGeeks
The Atlantic notes that, “for the predominantly male MemeGeeks, they established their affiliation with the group by making LOLCats that refer to more obscure memes — the more obscure, the better.”

3) Casual Users
And then there are the rest of us for those who are, “bored at work and who share LOLCats they find funny and cute. They were split pretty evenly male-female. For them, they emailed and Facebook-shared cats not with people they knew from the Internet but close friends and family — it was a way of staying in touch and sharing a laugh during a day at the office.”

Do you fall into one of those three categories?

Image: Word & Image

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