Have you ever been stressed out after a frustrating work week? Or even felt really down for a while? Try this: Contract 15 of your facial muscles to stimulate your zygomatic major muscle, let your respiratory system get upset by the epiglottis half-closing your larynx, so that air intake occurs irregularly. The effects of this pattern in the human behavior are so powerful that a special term was created for it: Laughter.
Laughter – Positive Disruption Daily
There is evidence that laughter is very good for your health. Estimated billions of smiley icons are typed daily to transfer the “light version” of the exercise described above to written conversations, and, in case you didn’t know, the entire month of April has been declared as “Humor Month“, starting off with the “Laugh at Work Week“, followed by the World Laughter Day on May 6th (yes, you might want to write that down :-))
The average adult laughs about 17 times a day. And presumably, the web has become an important stimulator for people worldwide to get their daily dose of humor. Because another remarkable phenomenon about “funny things” is that as soon as we’re done laughing at a joke, a cat picture, an Easter Egg implemented by the Google programmers in their search engine or a video that makes that celebrity you’re convinced you dislike look ridiculous, we immediately feel the urge to let our friends know about it, preferably by clicking one of the “share buttons” the Web 2.0 generously offers.
If it made you laugh – share it!
It’s indeed true that comedy has always had a tendancy to spread more quickly than many other types of content – long before internet and cable TV. There has always been that one new joke you couldn’t wait to share with the world, as Chris Bliss explains in his talk “Comedy is Translation“.
One particularly popular shape humor appears on the web as, are pictures (drawings or photographs) with a high recognition value and short punchliney texts that typically fit into a specific pattern. Those image-text-combinations that usually refer to a “common, yet hard to describe” feeling are called internet memes. It’s difficult to describe the underlying principle in general, while you intuitively grasp the deeper meaning when you look at several instances of Sudden Clarity Clarence, Good Guy Greg, Success Baby, or FUUU-Guy.
As many things, memes are not something that first occurred in the context of the internet. The internet only provided a new field and new ways to spread them. Originally, the term meme was generated by Richard Dawkins for a bit of information (like for instance an idea, behavior or style) that spreads from person to person within a culture. Just as genes carry information and replicate it physically, memes are the somehow “cultural” and less physical counterpart. Just as genes, memes follow the underlying principles of variation, selection and heredity: Memes vary over time and are influenced by the personality and environment of the carrier, which makes some versions more successful and more likely to “survive” than others, as Susan Blackmore – another pioneer in mimetics and TED-speaker – explains in her talk from 2008.
Memes in Austrian dialects FTW
Controversial as Blackmore’s meme theory might become when implied in different contexts – let’s stick to the “familiar feeling” that internet memes often trigger and that seem to be a source of laughter (“LOL”), or, at least, the light version of it, smile (:-)) And the fact that internet memes have recently started “infecting” Austria.
The founders of Steiramemes.com were probably the first ones who started “translating” the meme principle to Austrian dialect. And while many Austrian users report that stuff from popular “meme-hubs” such as 9Gag.com translated to standard German “never quite worked”, the Styrian, Carinthian, Upper Austrian or Viennese versions – among many others – of “The most interesting man in the world”, “Forever Alone” or “Sexually oblivious female” seem to work quite well.
Steiramemes, for instance, started in late February 2013, had 89.836 fans at the moment of writing.
Just don’t forget: LOL
Getting back to the original challenge of making people enrol into the physical exercise of laughter and benefit from its various powers such as cutting tension, relieving and establishing bonds between people: Here are a few (naturally strongly subjective) suggestions of how to “ROFL” (roll on the floor laughing) and make the most out of the last days of “Humor Month”:
When you really live in Wien (Another internet meme that has finally reached Austria – no Austrian dialect required here)
Ghosts and Ghostbusters in the New York Library, a project by ImprovEverywhere
30 Ways to Add Humor to Your Life