Monday, August 06, 2007

Internet Meme of the Week: Rick Rolled

As a tribute to all of our most beloved and hated Internet Memes, I've decided to dedicate a place for all these fade-based phrases, trends, and sayings that sweep across the internet and yet are just as quickly forgotten. I'm assuming anyone reading this blog (or any blog out there) knows their fair share of net lingo, so for now I'll gloss over the obvious stuff. However, if you're particularly fond of a specific meme, leave me a comment and I'll try to work it in. So without further ado..

My first pick is the term "Rick Roll" or "Rick Rolled", as in "You've been Rick Rolled!!" This refers to a practice on Internet forums where a poster creates a new topic or replies to an existing one and provides a false link within their post, and instead linking to a youtube video of Rick Astley's song, Never Gonna Give You Up. The forum post usually consists of promised evidence of an enticing claim or outrageous news story, which is why it's even funnier when your hopes come crashing down to reality after the reveal of the bogus link.

The first occurence of this phenomena can be traced back to the 4chan imageboards, where phony links were made to a picture of a duck on wheels, hence the phrase "Duck Roll" (source). The deceptive technique later evolved to youtube links and is still used occassionally in various game-related forums. So beware of suspicious posts like "Hey, check out this new 1080p gameplay vid for MGS4!!!! PSTriple Owns All!!!!"

Slightly similar to phishing in technique, but nowhere near as dangerous, it's mainly just plain annoying. Since forum posters are essentially anonymous, the frequency of this type of behavior can be quite common in certain communities. Essentially, the problem stems from people on the Internet being too trusting (myself included). We read random news stories, pass around odd facts about almost anything, and trade web-based online videos like bacteria spreading through a 2nd grade classroom. Like Michael Scott from The Office, we're all the "King of forwards!" Because of this, we always have to be prepared to flip our judgment of something obtained online at the drop of a hat. Rumors are incredibly easy to start online so they keep us skeptical about everything we encounter via mouse and keyboard.

Edit: Looks like I was incredibly insightful in picking this particular meme, as Merriam-Webster has recently included it among the ranks of words like "google" and "podcast" as an official part of our common lexicon.

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