Meme Madness: Three Pictures Sum Up Presidential Debates

It is probably safe to go out on a limb and predict one winner in 2012. The meme.

These ubiquitous (and usually silly) images with a handful of words (140 characters is typically too much) have been around for a while. But they have really come into their own this year, and particularly this election season.

They’re in keeping with our “information overload society”- I’m using that term today instead of “short attention span” – because three 90-minute presidential debates in less than three weeks constitutes a viewing marathon, and those are better left to cable TV and on-demand streams of something really entertaining (like anything with the word “Jersey” in it).

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines meme as:

“an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.”

But to the 1 billion people on Facebook, where memes probably take up more space in your newsfeed than anything that passes for “news”, let alone a juicy status update, a meme falls more in line with this definition from the Urban Dictionary:

“an internet information generator, especially of random or contentless information.”

I’ll go out on my second limb in one blog post to say that the meme shown in this post that sums up the three presidential debates in three pictures is better than random and far from contentless. Back in the day (2008), part of the sport of watching presidential debates was waiting for the zinger – the line that one candidate or another ultimately delivered that won him the night – and potentially the election.

While both the Obama and Romney campaigns have spun the debate scores to their advantage, this meme sums up each of the 90-minutes in one image. Score two zingers for Obama (Big Bird and bayonets) and one major flub for Romney (“binders full of women”).

What more do you need to make up your mind and cast your vote on November 6?

Meme credit:

Binders: What People Are Talking About Online This Week, Oct. 15-19



Those back-in-the-day ubiquitous office supply designed to collect and make sense of reams of hard copy data.

That’s what we’re talking about on a week in October 2012.

That, and essentially what a man running for president in the second decade of the 21st century thinks about women in the workforce. After a 40-year career in business and politics, if you don’t personally have any women in your network fit for a job you ask for (and apparently receive) “binders full of women” you can flip through to find the token one or two to hire.

In response to a question on gender pay inequality in Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney said that when he was assembling his cabinet after being elected governor in Massachusetts, he questioned his staff for sending him only male applicants and was told those were all who were qualified.

To which Romney said live, on national TV, “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”

And of course, here in the second decade of the 21st century, the Internet, starting with Twitter, exploded. The hashtag #binders was born, followed by a meme frenzy launched on Facebook that, three days later, is still going strong.

Mitt Romney’s backdated office supply of choice (we’re sure President Obama at least uses Excel spreadsheets) aligns pretty closely with his views on women. We still don’t (and never will) measure up to the boys in the workforce.

Ladies (and those who love us), we think you know what to do on election day. But, if you’re still undecided, this very clever hack job on may be of assistance. Tens of thousands of Americans have taken to the binder product review section of our number one online shopping site. A sample:

Wow, this binder has really changed my life. Before I was always trying to fit into the corporate world. I wanted things like equal pay, safety from sexual harassment and the right to have health care coverage for birth control. But after purchasing this binder I feel totally put in my place. 


As a woman, I’m not adept at making decisions that concern me. So when I need the right choice, I turn to the presidential candidate that KNOWS. One with prideful experience in this department. I don’t want to be filed away in an inferior & confusing electronic doohickey that I couldn’t possibly understand. Or heaven forbid, have a man ask for & listen to my ideas! I’d much rather rely on this top of the line, 1980s style, Avery Durable binder.


Maybe it’s just my women, but they don’t seem to want to fit into the space I’ve designated for them in this binder. They keep sticking out over the edges, even getting away in some cases. I thought using clear, glass-ceiling page protectors would help, but it doesn’t seem to slow them down anymore.

Sources: and CNN Politics: Political Tracker “Internet Goes Wild Over ‘Binders Fulls of Women’.”

Photo courtesy of The Dailly Beast.

History Repeating? Twitter and the Cuban Missile Crisis

A long, long time ago (50 years to be exact) the United States was embroiled in a major international crisis. And, we didn’t have Twitter to keep us apprised of the breaking developments that were leading the U.S. and Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war.

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A Cold War story that was a turning point in the presidency of John F. Kennedy and probably would have been his ticket to a second term in 1964, if only….

The Twitter account @JFK1962 (formerly @JFK1961 and soon to be @JFK1963), a project of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, has been re-creating the Kennedy Presidency via social media. The Kennedy White House was as media savvy for its time as the Obama White House, using television to make Kennedy seem as accessible and friendly as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the rest are used to portray Barack Obama as in touch with the present and future-ready. Key similarity: both presidents happily embraced using their latest communication tools.

The 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 16-28) are currently being tweeted using transcripts from the Kennedy Presidency and other historical documents archived at the Kennedy Library. Sample tweet:

“We’ve got a blockade with/without a declaration of war..We’ve got invasion. We’ve got notification of Khrushchev.”#13days

For a completely back to the future experience, and short attention span history lesson, follow along at @JFK1962.

Australian PM Julia Gillard Shines a Light on Sexism, Misogyny and Hypocrisy

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said what was on her mind the other day. And wow, did she make it clear how tired she is of the sexism and misogyny she encounters on a daily basis from the leader of the opposition party Tony Abbott.

In a blistering, now viral, 15-minute video attack, Gillard called out Abbott on years of anti-women comments and actions, including standing with protestors carrying signs calling her a “man’s bitch”.

The smackdown came about when Abbott demanded Gillard seek the resignation of her Speaker of the House for allegedly sending crude text messages to a staffer referring to female genitalia as a popular shellfish best served with frites and a cold glass of white wine. No problem, consider it done (the Speaker has since resigned). But what Gillard objected to was Abbott, who has a career rap sheet full of sexist and misogynistic comments of his own, lecturing her on aiding and abetting sexism and misogyny. The hypocrisy meter just imploded.

Said Gillard, “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,”

She then, according to, proceeded to rip Abbott a “new one” – for 15 minutes! A painfully long time….

A few zingers include:

“If he [Abbott] wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia he doesn’t need a motion in the house of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”


“The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynist are not appropriate for high office. Well I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation.”

The most damning accusations meanwhile, were backed up with facts.

Comparisons are already being drawn between Gillard and President Barack Obama, who has taken the same level of daily abuse over his skin color, although Americans surprisingly are too polite to say what we really mean.

A loud minority (i.e., the Tea Party) has spent the past four years carrying signs calling Obama a “Muslim” and/or claiming he was born in Kenya, when what’s really on their mind is that they don’t like living in a country where a black man is in charge. Whereas Australia has been grappling with sexism and misogyny for centuries – long before they elected their first female Prime Minister in Gillard, America continues to grapple with racism too long after Barack Obama has been our president.

Kudos to Australia (or at least half of it) for standing up and confronting their issue head on. Now it’s time for us to do the same.

Sources: The Telegraph, and Julia Gillard’s Shoe.

How to Not Suck at Instagram

Casey Neistat loves Instagram. He loves it so much he made this YouTube video to tell you why. And he offers up, in plain sight, some tips for what Instagram really is and how to use it. Think of your yellowing photo albums circa the mid-1980s. Now think of those albums on someone else’s smart phone. Get it? And yes, Casey, I’ll personally cool it with the hashtags and follow Rick Ross (he’s at @RichForever).

It’s Not You, It’s Me: Facebook Under Fire Because of Changes in the Way We Communicate

Last week I started seeing posts in my Facebook news feed by both overly cautious and semi-hysterical friends alike believing that Facebook was once again compromising their privacy. The latest hoo-ha: private messages written back in 2009 were now supposedly showing up on public timelines.

Facebook, of course, denied the accusations and offered an explanation later verified by TechCrunch’s Facebook expert. Turns out these so-called “private messages” were never private at all. In fact, they have always been public wall posts. As social business expert Peter Kim explains to the overly cautious, semi-hysterical and just curious, it’s not that Facebook has changed – it’s us. What we might never even think of posting today – either on our own wall or a friend’s – was quite acceptable in 2009.

Kim provided a link:[your_page]/allactivity?log_filter=cluster_11 that you can use to go back in time and see what type of things you used to freely post on Facebook back in the day. (Be sure to type your name or Facebook ID into the URL to call up your page.)

My own “secret” timeline confessions include that was “inhaling paint fumes”; “going to the dentist” and “still buzzin’ from being in the front row at the Waifs concert”. (Apparently I was a big fan of the “is” status function that used to start out with “[Your name] is ________________” and had you fill in the blank. None of this is particularly damaging, in my opinion, since I believe the paint fumes were due to my office being painted, being a fan of the Australian folk group the Waifs isn’t a crime, and we’re all entitled to at least one boring post in our social media lifetimes, and I chose to use mine on a trip to the dentist.

I like to credit the fact that I have pretty much always maintained my dignity on Facebook because I was in my forties when it became popular and I’d been online since the early ’90s, two stats that when combined not only make me 107 in Internet years, but also indicate I’ve learned a thing or two about putting things in writing. And now, some three or more years since many of us first posted on Facebook, it seems others are learning this lesson, the somewhat hard way by seeing past public posts that we wished we’d have kept private.

If you think it’s time to purge parts of your past Facebook life, visit How to Remove All Your Facebook Old Wall Posts, Public or Private, from Your Timeline (courtesy of The Next Web). And going forward, counting to 10 before you hit the “Post” key is probably a good idea. But you do that now, don’t you?

Source: Facebook: That Was Then, This Is Now by Peter Kim.