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How do we find meaning in a society devoid of it?

“The spectacle represents the dominant model of life.”

Guy Debord
Source: Giphy

Debord (1967) presents the belief that “everything that was directly lived now is merely represented in the distance” wherein, “spectacle is a concrete inversion of life, an autonomous movement of the nonliving.” Basically, saying that since industry aims to generate a synthetic form of life (consumerism), life itself has become devoid of meaning – as the only meaning of life is to further consumerism.

Debord made these statements in 1967, however they ring startlingly true today. In a society that thrives on likes, shares and comments, how can we be anything else than a world of appearances? In this shift from having, to appearing to have, people seemingly live only to promote a certain online image. Their real personality is lost, inconsequential – that online world is the only world they know.

Debord’s statements led to a new form of meme, detournement. This subversion of consumerist propaganda is a form of mematic warfare against the very industry that has promoted online living. It works effectively as a form of ‘hacking’ propaganda, as the industry does not recognise it – it sees only its own image, and not the messages held within.

Source: Giphy

This form of meme creation presents a stark contrast to the humorous memes popularised in everyday society, having a deeper meaning that resonates within. It is this very power to act against the industry that controls us, that allows us to have some hope for the future.

Debord, G., 1967. The Society Of The Spectacle. 1st ed. Buchet-Chastel.

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