God In Our Own Image: “Won’t God Do It” Memes
Nick argues that we’re in a new age of memes with a new group of Internet users in the driver’s seat:
But over the past few years, the advice meme trickled down to the lower class of the internet: boomers, parents, late adopters, mainstreamers, and possibly the actual lower class. Their sense of style is less influenced by irony or tech design. They like jokes, not anti-jokes. And on Facebook pages like Shut Up I’m Still Talking, Words of Wisdom, Heart Touching Fun, Love This Pic, and Bringing Humor to Your Day With Love, they remake memes in their own image [emphasis added].
It is a great argument, full of images and readings if you’re into those kinds of things. Not only did Nick’s essay introduce me to a meme taxonomy but gave me an excuse to introduce the “Won’t God Do It” meme theme.
I use Facebook to stay in touch with family members. Facebook (and Instagram to a lesser degree) is about the only social networking site that most of my family members use. They may be part of that Internet proletariat Nick describes above. Actually, let me stop playing. Of course we are a part of the Internet proletariat.
But we are not just working class or late adopters or moms. My people are also my people. As such they are also black, Southern, and religious. Those intersections have exposed me to a special brand of meme I’m going to call “Won’t God Do It” or WGDI. The WGDI meme draws on cultural narratives, as Nick argues, but does not fit into the categories he explains so well.
Out the gate you’ll notice that the WGDI meme mostly uses images of black people. They also share a certain kind of aesthetic, i.e. bold colors and movement. They are religious but not only religious. They do not just draw on Christianity but on the black church, which is a sociocultural/political space.
Building a WGDI meme is not for amateurs. You gotta know your stuff. First, you steep yourself in the Ohio Players’ album art aesthetic from the 1970s. Then you become fluent in southern linguistic constructions a la Outkast’s “SouthernPlayalisticCadillacMuzik”. Finally, you get into some Creflo Dollar prosperity gospel. Then and only then are you ready to consume the WGDI meme.
WGDI memes specialize in reminding you (if you ever knew) how God will make a way out of no way:
The battle is not yours. It is indeed the Lord’s. That’s similar to religious memes like those Nick describes but check the iconography. Martin Luther King Jr. once said* Sunday at 11 a.m. was the most segregated hour in America. There’s religion and then there’s church. Different people do church differently and they do not often do it with people different from themselves. As a result, any good WGDI meme uses culturally specific images. Most are steeped in the black southern religious experience.
When God do it, the memes don’t stop. They keep coming! Now they tell you how you better respond, i.e. with thanks and a hand praise:
And if it has been awhile since God did it, the meme will tell you how to proceed. Basically, you can like/share/repost your way into God’s good graces:
When God ain’t yet doing it or it has been awhile since God did it, you can also find a fair amount of memes with some of God’s more meaningful proverbs:
And since nothing brings about the need of God’s grace like a heterosexual relationship, there is a limitless supply of WGDI memes for how to have a good man/be a good woman. Basically, don’t twerk:
Like the post-meme meme, the WGDI meme has an afterlife. It is especially vibrant on Black Twitter where the affective socio-linguistic group of Twitter users frequently subvert religiosity memes (e.g. black church archetypes) using the WGDI aesthetic:
Lest you think I’m making fun of my family, I have come to appreciate the “Won’t God Do It” meme. They are their own form of communication. When the volume of WGDI memes ramp up? I know someone is going through something and I had better send a text message. When the WGDI memes change from “liking” to earn God’s routing number to “A Good Man Loves Jesus And Me”? I know someone just broke-up. I better not ask how bae is doing at the next get together. And, when the WGDIs ditch the religion for Meek Mill quotes, I know to troll the timeline looking for signs of dropping out of school. I figure God has worked in ways more mysterious than the meme.
*You know your WGDI culture when you know to drop an MLK quote.