Social media’s birth and gestation in colleges and high schools seems in some way to have given it a quality that remakes the whole world as a giant school. And like a school, it has a variety of aristocracies. The (formerly bookish) gossips on Twitter determine the meaning of news events. The beautiful and stylish determine fashion and luxury trends across Instagram. The youth emerging from their own platforms are building a counterculture that is being bought up by corporations and political movements. The Great Awokening and the alt-right were the conjoined twins, offspring of the friction between Tumblr and Reddit/4chan.
For me personally, it became impossible to ignore this cafeteria-like element almost seven years ago, when the word “derp” started spreading across social media. It was a nonsense word generated to point to nonsense. It was also literally the thing that was yelled and half-sung across my own high school’s cafeteria whenever someone accidentally knocked over one of the aluminum poles marking off the lunch line, leading to that unpleasant sound of aluminum hitting cold tile.