Every once in a while you find something really crazy on the internet, crazy enough that you know that you’re not going to see it for the last time. If it’s really different and catchy, it eventually turns into a meme, which is actually a word coined by none other than Richard Dawkins. And then an internet meme is born. We saw it first in 2000 with All You Base Are Belong To Us (still one of the funniest memes on the internet), then a series of underwhelming grumpy cats, annoying Chuck Norris faux pas, Gene Wilder condescendence in a top hat, ridiculously photogenic marathon runners, and an overly attached girlfriend. But then came the pinnacle of an annoying, ridiculous and pervasive meme – something that broke free from the traditional bounds of poorly made jpegs and two bit gifs. There came shibe – everyone’s least favourite shiba inu.
It was a meme that came with hand baggage in the form of a distorted yet unique language. It started out with the image above making its rounds on 4chan sometime in August. And as we know, anything that starts on 4chan eventually makes its way around the internet, seeping in through the precipices of funnyjunk and 9gag, distilled into facebook in a broken form into the public masses, a mere shadow of what it once was. The same happened with ‘doge’. Aside from it’s pronunciation, its other wonder is how quickly reddit got wind of it and started blowing it out of proportion. The transition from ‘doge’, the innocent little yellow shiba inu, to ‘shibe’. the monosyllabillic, transgressive form of language that sounds condescending till you see it with multicoloured Comic Sans on an image of the face of a dog photoshopped™ over literally anything else.
I first saw shibe on reddit. Having unsubscribed from all its outlets of ridiculous memes, I stumbled upon the subreddit supershibe. By then I knew that I’d be seeing this thing for a long time to come.
It’s common knowledge among people who know anything about the internet at all, that all content trickles down through various sites. Everything starts out on 4chan; it’s the absolute cesspool of humanity, and anyone who regularly goes there is certifiably either mentally challenged or a serial killer. But they produce quality content, nonetheless. Every meme that’s made you laugh on the internet, every copypasta that’s incited a chuckle, every tired and trodden joke that existed after 2002 has its origins there. And then it goes to reddit, and then 9gag and various other content aggregators who ferociously and unceremoniously watermark it, pretending to have created it. From there it gets picked up by various pages and social networks after which it eventually makes its way over to all your friends except you. Suddenly all of facebook is talking about it; George Takei has retweeted it or something and Youtube comments have new, original content to post.
And then, on the front page of reddit on December 16th, after the Bitcoin market crashed by almost 51%, I found a thread where a user “netcodepool” gifted about $1000 to another user through something called Dogecoins. At this point, after the initial moment of intrigue wore off, I searched around to find how this Dogecoin joke became so big.
For some context, a few days before this on reddit, there was a rather exciting bot called fedora_tip_bot. A “fedora tip” is characteristically pathetic. (We’re now delving into the depths of internet culture). The sort of white knighting character who would do anything to impress a lady, and yet somehow not manage to impress anyone at all. The guy in his late twenties who thinks it’s cool to wear a fedora to try and look like Thom Yorke or Michael Jackson, who would tip it and say “M’Lady” when a lady walked past, as if that ever happens anywhere except in H.H. Munro’s stories.
In honour of this parody, a reddit user created a bot called fedora_tip_bot, that was again, a parody of the more consistent (and real) Bitcoin bot that can be used to tip reddit users in Bitcoins. Users can tip in imaginary currencies like ‘kiloSagans’ (a parody of reddit’s fascination and admiration towards Carl Sagan), ‘euphorias’ (a parody of an old reddit inside joke on /r/athiesm), KAR = Karma, nBRD = neckBEARDs, rGLD = redditGOLD, and mDAW = milliDAWKINS. Among others.
So what is a Dogecoin? Well, Dogecoins, unlike its retarded fedora tipping cousin, is very real. It’s a real currency, a cryptocurrency rather like Bitcoin or Litecoin. After the Bitcoin crash due to Chinese policies that devaluated the currency on 15th December, Dogecoin helped itself on the way in to public consciousness. And that’s when I discovered the wonderful community of Dogecoins.
The problem with Bitcoin is it’s very sterile. It’s difficult to get started, with the bootstrap.dat file being several gigabytes in size, and the community being interested in hoarding and daily arbitrage instead of spending and increasing its value. That’s where Dogecoin comes in; it’s a friendly way to get started with cryptocurrencies. I downloaded my wallet and got started after visiting the Dogecoin subreddit.
Even though 1 Dogecoin is currently valued at $0.001 (December 20th 2013), it’s the only cryptocurrency that’s grown since the Bitcoin crash. Its value is over 300% higher than what it was five days ago. Dogecoin started out about two weeks ago, so it’s very very new. In that time, it’s value has grown enormously, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this ‘joke’ currency becomes one of the top five cryptocurrencies in the world. A joke is powerful – comedy is powerful. If all it takes is an interesting meme to make a person invest in a currency, then that currency has potential. Right now it has very little real world spending power, but unlike Bitcoin in its infancy, Dogecoin is already seeing uses with people giving it a chance to trade and exchange goods and services.
I did a little Dogecoin mining myself with my weak and frail little rig. So far I have barely a dollar’s worth of Doge, but that’s where I’m going to stop. Going with its current growth trends, Dogecoin shows potential. It’s market cap is rising steadily. So you might want to get started. This might be the first time in the history of the world that a joke is valued at $5 million.
Also, don’t shy from sending a little Doge my way.