In the wide, wide world of memes, one doesn’t have to scroll far to see words like “epic” and “legendary” being thrown around like no one’s business and blown out of proportion. Yet, it doesn’t take much to earn these accolades today. Just a while ago, a meme of a teenager disguised as his mother to buy alcohol at an off-license took over all the meme platforms where users took in his acts of apparent ingenuity and bravery and dubbed him as a “legend”. Another example of what it takes to be an icon in today’s pop culture is Danielle Bregoli, more notoriously known as the “Cash Me Ousside” fourteen-year-old girl who first appeared on the Dr. Phil show in September. Seven months later, not only is she set to star in her own TV show that all 8.3 million Instagram followers of hers will undoubtedly tune into, she is also worth roughly USD $30,000 to USD $40,000 per public appearance. In the words of modern society’s lingo, what even is this?
With all the influence that we hold and the freedom of speech that all our resources pooled together affords us, these are the people who enjoy the fruits of our attention. The same people who foresaw a life of delinquency for Danielle Bregoli were also the ones who unknowingly handed her the recognition that pushed her to Internet fame. It is common knowledge that millennials are an outspoken generation in nature. But by talking about and hyping up the wrong things, have we abused the power that the Internet has afforded us by careless knighting of the wrong individuals?
Tanishq Abraham, for instance, is a 13-year old child prodigy who is also a NASA speaker, a TEDx speaker and a college graduate with three associate degrees. Currently enrolled into the University of California, Abraham aspires to win the Nobel Prize and eventually become the President of The United States—no big deal. 19-year old Malala Yousafzai has actually already won the Nobel Peace Prize and shouldn’t need any further introduction as a prominent defender of human rights who is especially vocal in the field of women’s education. It’s a startling fact that rousing figures such as these will never gain even half the following of someone who gained Internet fame from an incoherent catchphrase such as “Cash me ousside howbow dah!”.
Perhaps some people may say that Tanishq and Malala lack the star quality required to dazzle the masses. But shouldn’t their accomplishments for the good of humanity be good enough warrant our attention? We need to be more careful about who we dub as icons today. 2017 should be the year that we, as millennials, start using our freedom and power to hype up the right people and to crown titles to people who actually deserve it. We may be an impressionable bunch but it’s never too late to start giving the right credit where it’s really due.