On Weebs or OMPE part 134

Who here knows what a “weeb” is? Don’t worry, I had to look it up too. Apparently it is 4chan speak for “zhainan”. Ok, so that may not help all of you. A weeb is a Westerner deeply into Japanese anime, according to Mr. Google. I’ve stumbled across it multiple times on some of my Millennial and Zoomer friends Facebook feeds and just kind of zoned it out as webhua. Yesterday, I finally was like “what the fuck DOES that mean?”.

I’ve maintained for decades that one of the biggest problems the US has is that the population is functionally illiterate. Although this country was founded on the bizarre premise that “With Liberty and Justice for All” doesn’t actually include All, this country was also founded on being able to read the Greek and Roman Classics and Early Modern European Philosophy and being able to argue why the Founders did what they did. The instant this country lost touch with functional literacy, it lost touch with any greater purpose it may have and has gotten mired in shopping and short term pleasures. Anyway… I’m not here to lecture in a fuddy-duddy way. Deep Literacy is an endangered skill. I say this not as a Right Winger Conservative, but as a man with two degrees in Deep Literacy (Philosophy and Spanish Lit), who taught ESL for five years and has studied Mandarin for 10. My pursuits require attention and focus. However, we live in an age of less and less attention, yet are faced with problems of increasing complexity. Since I came back from Taiwan in 2012, I have been struck over and over again by the utter lack of attention span that Americans have. Are you still reading this? We’re barely at 500 words. I once had sex with a stripper in a grave. You back? Ok. Onwards.

In many ways, this is a consequence of our transition from predominantly Print media to Electronic media and/or media of Secondary Orality (if you’ve read Walter Ong) like radio, TV, and film. However, the emergence of the Web and the Web browser in the mid 1990s hastened this transition. Swathes of Americans simply do not read hard copies of bound print media anymore. They consume in the form of meme, podcast, tweet, Facebook post, Tik Tok videos, and the like. (Raise your hand if you know where the word ‘meme’ comes from. Raise your other hand if you’ve read the book. Stand up and yell “I AM A PHILOSOPHER GOD KING!” if you’ve read the sequel. Shut up, you pretentious dick. Sit down.)

Yet, we’ve hit a point where there is enough of a semiotic web where meme links to meme links to 4chan, 8chan, 16chan, 256chan links to Alt-Catholic twitter links to Taiwanese twitter links to Facebook cat videos links to ranting Irishmen links to fish recipes on Youtube links to weebs watching Gundams drunk on sake getting fucked by tentacles. We have reached a point where the meaning of the system doesn’t touch ground. We are approaching a grammar of Cyberspace.

“Weeb” is part of a new literacy. We were merely gibbering in our Gen Xer pidgin. The weebs are the first native speakers of this New Creole written in 1s and 0s only.



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