The digital world is not doubt fleeting, and internet interest peaks quickly before plummeting. Meme culture in particular has a rapid turnover rate, as one viral concept or ideal is quickly shared, enjoyed, and then replaced by the next.
Drake’s Hotline Bling dance move was quickly replaced by Damn, Daniel, which was in turn cast aside for Bernie vs Hillary on issues, until these memes were replaced by Dat Boi which was almost instantly forgotten by the large circulation of SpongeGar, until finally, something truly absurd happened. When a four year old boy climbed into the gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo resulting in the death of a 17 year old lowland gorilla, the internet collectively when insane. All memes of 2016 became irrelevant in the wake of Harambe.
The internet blew up with posts celebrating, idolizing, and eternalizing Harambe. People began protesting, petitioning, and campaigning ludicrous suggestions such as putting the gorilla’s face on the dollar bill, changing NFL team’s names, and blaming Hillary Clinton for the death of this ape. For the better part of summer, it was difficult to scroll a social media platform without finding Harambe based memes.
But why did this happen? Cecil the Lion’s shooting was met with similar uproar in July of 2015, yet it quickly died down soon to be forgotten. The death of Cecil was no more justified nor humane than the death of Harambe and yet Cecil’s meme spot light lasted a few weeks at most. Harambe was shot on May 28, 2016 and yet here we are in October and the memes are as relevant as ever.
One main facade of memes is their inevitable shelf life. And yet Harambe memes only seem to continue generation. Finally, on August 23, Thane Maynard, the zoo’s director, urged those virally grieving Harambe death to stop with the memes. However rather than respecting the mourning Zoo family, internet users heartlessly went the other way. Greater outrage from this plea led to more indignant memes as online users defended their right to drag out the Harambe hype even longer. In truly online bully fashion, users generated more memes and continued to blow the Harambe debacle up by explosively high proportion. Even today, Harambe memes are still in mass circulation.
Our only hope is that Kenneth Bones, the Red Sweater Audience Guy from the second presidential debate can finally quiet down the Harambe fever, allowing grievers