The 'What I Do' Meme May Be Immortal

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Having grown tired of "Shit Girls Say," some of our favorite Facebookers and Tweeters have propped the "What I Do" meme on their social media shoulders, and it looks like it's here to stay. Thanks to the aforementioned meme, we now know what directors, designers, writers, journalists (x2)... Nic Cage, fashion designers, and many others think they do, what their parents think they do, and what they think we think of what they do (does that make sense?). Unfortunately for this meme's haters, it isn't going anywhere soon. Here's why:

You Don't Need to Be That Good to Create This Meme

Unlike the very popular Shit Girls Say meme, this meme requires even less technical skill and fewer snappy lines. Photoshop or MS Paint, no one will know the production value you may have put into the meme the way you would with a bootleg version of a "Shit Girls Say" meme. And as Know Your Meme points out, the template for the meme is relatively simple. Apparently one Canvas user posted a "Director" version of the meme on February 10, and many derivative replies appeared quickly -- speaking to the ease of replication. 

 The template's right here (white font and a couple of pictures later and you'll have yourself a meme).

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It's Been a Bad Year for Creative Types 
Perhaps it's our fault (and not just because I gave you the template). Blame us now. PC Magazine, which picked up on the meme on Monday, attributed its rise to artsy professions. "So far, most of the ones we've come across concern artsy professions like photographer, director, writer, etc. — basically, folks with access to simple photo-editing tools and lots of time on their hands," wrote Damon Poeter. Poeter is kind enough to use the euphemism "lots of time on their hands" instead of say, "unemployed" or "procrastinating." The meme was reportedly started by artist Garnet Hertz on his Facebook on February 2, which fits into Poeter's theory. Poeter adds, "Amazingly, no one has thought to make the payoff image for any of those callings a picture of a barista (this would also work for musicians, actors, poets, and philosophers).  Zing.  And with the current state of the journalism industry, some of us might not have better things to do than give you memes. 

The Backlash Speaks to the Power of the Meme

Just like the withering end of the "Shit Girls Say" meme spawned the brilliant "Shit Nobody Says," the "What I Do" meme already has its haters. And not just the eye-rollers that you'll never see on the other side of Facebook, there are people who are using the meme for backlash purposes. The Washington Post points out two in circulation. But unlike the meh-worthy derivatives of "Shit Girls Say" that led to its clunky demise, the backlash incorporates the very things that make this meme so successful -- ease of replication, sequential humor, and the like.   

So how are you supposed to kill a meme if it's immune to its own backlash and ... sorry, we weren't listening. We were too busy figuring out how make the journalist one funnier.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.