Memes are born in many ways – but what of their underlying meaning? I’m not saying we should read into the subtext of every Doge tweet or Trololo, but even the most irritating meme can have humble, if not forgotten, beginnings.
One meme that really grinds my gears is ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. You know – that overdone, overused, overcopied meme that seems to have spread across the world like a virus. A horrible, repetitive virus.
Trouble is, I really like the meaning behind it. The memeification (a word I wholeheartedly hope will soon appear in the Oxford English Dictionary) of Keep Calm is eroding its original meaning – which really is a shame, because it embodied a spirit, an ethos, a creed that we could all stand to adopt more often. A spirit this blog post hopes to redress.
The spirit of ‘Carry On’.
The culture of 1940s Britain was fascinating. During WW2 the people of this damp little island saw war on their doorstep in a way we haven’t done since. You could see the bombs fall, hear the air-raid sirens, there were ration books and evacuees and – well – life changed.
But did their spirit waver? No. Brits kept calm, and carried on. People went about their daily lives, living every moment in pride and defiance – not letting the war defeat their way of life.
If the rules of Richmond Golf Club in 1940 don’t show that defiant, ‘carry on’ attitude, I don’t know what does. But why should we care now?
Surely those ‘keep calm and carry on’ posters were only really relevant during the war? Isn’t it OK to designate them as ‘retro’ and butcher them for mugs and posters?
Not in the slightest.
I think that the sentiment behind ‘keep calm and carry on’ is every bit as relevant today as it was in 1940. More than relevant, in fact – I think it’s needed. Desperately so.
I can’t help but click through the news feeling slightly sad at headlines of “X to sue Y”, “Z gets bonus”, or “A’s phone was hacked by B to uncover C, D and E”. When did we become a nation of complainers? A nation of “where there’s blame, there’s a claim”?
Every day I encounter people who need more ‘carry on’ in their lives. And no, I’m not referring to the ageing, awful series of films from the 1960s. Whether it’s followers on Twitter, colleagues, or students or startups I’m working with, people’s glasses seem half empty far too much of the time.
What we need as a nation – nay world – is more people who aren’t afraid to fail. People who’ll give something their all regardless of the outcome. People who’ll put themselves out to make something successful, and not be put off if it doesn’t end up going as well as they’d hoped.
People who’d never stop a game of golf for a few measly little bombs.
In my last post, I wrote about how we live is more important than what we leave behind when we’re gone. Surely embodying the spirit of ‘carry on’ keeps us engaged, keeps us hungry, keeps us working toward goals that seem more impossible than they really are. I challenge you to live the spirit of doing the impossible, every day. Get out of bed and follow your dreams no matter what. After all, what else separates those who do from those who just think about doing?