Meme culture as the old guard knows it is dead. Memes themselves, in their new version of the word and new understanding, are flourishing and will for…well I’m not sure about that, but at least for awhile.
Evolution is a necessarily evil. I stand by the fact that the internet culture I grew up with is dead (no teenager now will ever understand America Online). I believe that a very small amount of people who participate in recent meme culture have a strong desire to understand where it came from. History doesn’t matter, history is not worth the same to younger participants. The social capital exists in the moment. It is fleeting and to gain it, you need to be there and see it unfold before it’s gone.
There is something so well-worn and frankly old-fashioned about the internet “old guard” mourning the adoption/co-option of its inside jokes, lingo, and platforms by mainstream culture: such nostalgia is probably as old as culture and language themselves, except that digital evolves more quickly than any cultural expression we’ve heretofore seen.
I agree that evolution is inevitable, but it is not evil. And history DOES matter, if only to a precious few. Just as linguists try to understand the evolution of language without judgement about its correct-ness, we will see the emergence of cultural/technological historians who chart the evolution of Internet culture. But as with any form of history, those things which seem important & carries social capital today may not make it into the historical canon. Some things of value will be lost in this process, but, be honest: how many milestones in meme culture really deserve to be canonized?