Moths, Man

The recent popularity of the “moth meme” has led to the usual reaction from the corners of the web interested in cultural trendspotting. In just a matter of days coverage went from “what is happening” to “let’s chat with a lepidopterist” to “let’s piggyback on this viral moth content and share this video of a moth literally drinking tears out of the eye duct of a sleeping bird.”

Most of this coverage is less interested in the moth meme and more interested in capitalizing on the popularity of the moth meme. Unlike moths, who seem to spend the entirety of their short lives focused on one, specific thing, writers who work the viral coolhunting beat (and their editors) work quickly to summarize, embed relevant content, optimize material for search results, disseminate through their usual channels, and hope that search engines are kind to their offerings. The window for catching the attention of the web, depending on the meme, is very small. “Even though the meme is basically dead at this point,” writes Peter Hess of Inverse on October 4th, he notes that “lots of people are still reading” an explainer post he wrote way back on September 30th. Peter has moved on, and the “people” who are just catching up are stuck way back in last week.

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