Whitney Phillips,‎ Ryan M. Milner – The Ambivalent Internet: Mischief, Oddity, and Antagonism Online


Polity, ISBN-13: 978-1509501274, English, 240 pages, 2017, UK

The internet as a system of communication has evolved quickly after the propagation of social media. The instantaneousness of dialogues, in the form of posts and comment/chats reinforced by visual technologies and links, has highly influenced the amount of expression produced, and so its content. A series of online behaviours which would have been considered quite borderline just a few years back, are now completely accepted in the social flow, and this new galaxy of folklore has pervaded practically everybody’s timeline in different accents, with topics ranging from general elections to the most trivial daily distractions. Phillips and Milner investigate some of the most interesting forms of this folklore and the respective vernaculars. ‘Ambivalent’ perfectly describes the double-edged nature of these forms, which the authors have researched in remarkable extent, going well beyond the usual meme and viral analysis. They have structured theoretical references to build a fundamental context and understand a new glossary of used terms. Five genes seem to connect the DNA of these forms: humour, play, identity, storytelling and public dimension, with several basic techniques supporting the production, like, for example, the so-called “absurdist humour” supposedly using Photoshop to produce abstract memes. There’s a general awkwardness that emerges, reflecting the complexity we are faced with, but also the important ambivalence that lies behind.