"#Russiansdidit": Drama of Social Problem in Internet Memes

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Valeriya VASILKOVA, Saint Petersburg State University, Russian Federation
Nadezhda ZINOVYEVA, The Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Federation
The global Internet communication system generates new media that can transfer the information, overcoming territorial restrictions. This report is devoted to one of them - Internet memes. They are both global and specific: the same meme can be used in different countries, but have their own semantic features.

The authors consider Internet memes as a way of visualizing significant social information and demonstrating the focus of interest of the Internet community, as a way of constructing new links and actual values. Internet memes draw attention to a new perspective of perception, to the presence of a certain "second bottom" of reality, which propagandized by mass media. By the example of Internet memes "#RussiansDidit" and "russian hackers" the authors shows how the danger of Russian hackers is being transformed. These Internet memes are interpreted in the context of the concept of public arenas (Hilgartner S., Bosk Ch. L.), which considers the social problem as a result of the struggle for a resource of public attention. The gain in the competitive struggle of meanings is caused by such factors as the need for drama and novelty, the danger of saturation, cultural accents and political predilections. In this context, it is shown how, through structural transformations of the Internet meme (variations of correlations of the core, periphery and background), the drama of the analyzed social problem unfolds and the initial socio-cultural assessments are reversed. The recognizable sociocultural code of an Internet meme influences the context in which the entire image is understood. The authors pay special attention to the similarities and differences in the interpretations of the memes "#RussiansDidit" and "russian hackers" in the Internet spaces of the US and Russia.