When I was young(er), memes were, well, pretty obscure. I went to websites like Memebase and Failblog (which, by the way, still exist!), and later Encyclopedia Dramatica and, yes (I'm sorry), 4chan. All these were part of what I'll call "internet culture". Which, back then, didn't mean culture in general. There was actually a culture outside of the internet! And this internet culture, with its countless inside jokes, was, I'll be honest, for dorks. There was a very specific type of person who'd engage with it. Young, male, insecure and introverted are the first words that come to mind. These people wouldn't just walk up to other people to make friends. They were, generally speaking (and definitely speaking for myself) lucky to have friends at all. But online, there was this whole world of like-minded people, sharing jokes that no one outside of this circle would understand. You could tell random people at school "The Game", and none of them would know what the hell you're talking about. Of course, the joke was on them, since you lose The Game by thinking about The Game. So you just lost, as did I. Anyways, all of this is to say that there was a clear distinction between real life and meme life. So it's pretty crazy to see that today, memes have taken over the world. They're ubiquitous! And although they've grown in popularity and therefore lost their appeal as a secret (albeit stupid) language, they're still inside jokes. The boundary has just shifted. It's no longer just young insecure boys, it's an entire generation. And other generations are never in on the joke. I think that I'm currently on the border: I'm not up to date with the memes that are popular today, but I do still understand most of them. One effect of memes having become so widespread, is that most of them have become very lowest-common-denominator. They're easy to get, as they barely require any kind of inside knowledge. But old people (also known as boomers) severely lack any kind of knowledge of internet culture, so even these popular memes (sometimes known as normie memes) will fly over their heads most of the time.
Most of the insecure boys who were part of meme culture back in the day will have grown up by now. The ones who haven't are still on the internet, in the dark corners where no one dares to venture. 4chan has become one of these places. To be fair, it was always a pathetic place. The utter shittiness of 4chan was a meme in itself. Yet there was a kind of authentic shittiness that made it unique. Now, it's truly nothing more than a toxic breeding ground for the rare group of people who are both insecure and assholes. The offensive humor that the site used to be known for, has turned into just offensiveness. Some people still think it's funny. But I think that most of them have moved on. So have I, in case that wasn't clear. It was a strange time for sure. And it's even stranger, seeing a manifestation of that culture being so abundant now. Even if a lot of the memes right now are pretty crappy, it was probably the natural way for them to evolve. After all, the internet has become our entire lives. It only makes sense that internet culture takes over the new generation.