Funny pictures: why VKontakte is switching to memes and where it will lead

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Funny pictures: why VKontakte is switching to memes and where it will lead
Funny pictures: why VKontakte is switching to memes and where it will lead
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Visual images are perceived by people on average 6 times better than text. The VKontakte team is well aware of this, which has switched to the policy of short phrases (with a picture) to the detriment of long and boring articles (from now on, the leading groups in the public rating are not serious groups, but those who post more "memchiks"). The logic is simple: increase traffic and number of users. The question is: which users?

Meme "VKontakte" doggy

Visual images are perceived by people on average 6 times better than text. This is well known to the VKontakte team, which has switched to the policy of short phrases (with a picture) to the detriment of long and boring articles (from now on, the leading groups in the public rating are not serious groups, but those who post more "memchiks"). The logic is simple: increase traffic and number of users. The question is: which users?

Picture book

The first illustrated book for children is considered the encyclopedia of the Czech priest and teacher Jan Amos Komensky "The World of Sensual Things in Pictures", which was published in 1659. Have you ever wondered why we need pictures in children's books? So that the child can better assimilate the information and generally become interested in the book. This is understandable, but not the answer to the question. Why is text with pictures better absorbed? Because our ancestors always had vision (since the appearance of complex multicellular organisms), but speech (especially written), by historical standards, appeared a moment ago. It is easier for us to remember what we saw, rather than read. Children, on the other hand, are much closer to nature than adults (they have not yet trained their brains for complex images like letters), hence their love for pictures.

But letters are also pictures. This is how our brain perceives them. Only these pictures are incomprehensible to him (even if in his entire life a person only did what he read), so the brain needs a certain time and work to decipher them. To read the text, it takes effort to understand the picture - almost none. Therefore, looking at pictures and photographs is much more pleasant for many people than reading.

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Instead of a thousand words

How does our brain remember information? The brain spends 50% of its resources on analyzing what it sees, and all the rest of its power is distributed among the rest of the body's abilities. That's what it is. Vision affects other senses, such as the sense of taste and smell. Experiments confirm this. The most famous is the wine tasting, when 54 lovers of this drink were asked to taste several samples of it. Before that, insidious scientists committed a blasphemous act: they mixed a tasteless red dye into white wine. And what? The sophisticated tasters did not notice anything! White wine under the guise of red "entered" with a bang. This is to the question of how important what we see is to us.

Another experiment showed that if you are an average layman, then after listening to some information, you can only reproduce it by about 10% in three days (“hello” to audiobooks, which many schoolchildren use today to “prepare” lessons). Read - by 30%. If, while listening, you were also shown some accompanying pictures, in three days you will remember as much as 65%! This phenomenon is called the image superiority effect.

Other studies, by the way, have shown that people are able to memorize more than two and a half thousand pictures (which they saw for only 10 seconds), and then reproduce them with an accuracy of 90%. A year later, this percentage decreases, but is still very high - as much as 63%.

And also, as Alan F. Blackwell, a professor of the computer laboratory at Cambridge University, known for his work on language modeling, found out that one picture can replace as many as 84, 1 words. Approximately so many words are needed to fully describe the image seen.

Therefore, a good teacher will not scold a student for drawings in the margins (if they relate to the topic of the subject, of course), because such explanatory graphs, as scientists have found, help to better assimilate and memorize the material. It turns out that pictures are good. It turns out so. But not always. After all, if we talk about the new policy of VKontakte, we are talking not only about pictures, but also about the text accompanying them. The latter is shortened to one, maximum two phrases.

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Too easy reading

The texts that we read from the screens of our gadgets are becoming clearer, and the pictures are becoming more beautiful. As scientists who in 2007 conducted an experiment led by neuroscientist Stanislav Dehen (Center for Brain Imaging, USA) found out, this turned out to be a real problem. It turned out that when we read an illegible text, our brain “turns on” and we have to think. Thanks to this, information is absorbed better.

This leaves a dilemma - text with pictures is perceived better, but too simplified reading does not facilitate the assimilation of information. This means only one thing: pictures are needed, but training is useful for the brain. If she does not exist, there will be no deep knowledge. And, although brevity is the sister of talent, short phrases, of course, are unlikely to replace a full text. Especially when it comes to cognitive things, which, fortunately, are also lacking in social networks.

Unlike entertainment content, popular science posts cannot be limited to short memes. It looks funny and out of place. And most importantly, it can contribute to the stupidity of young people, who make up the majority of users of social networks. However, there are some nuances here: for entertaining publics, such techniques are only beneficial, but they will harm more serious communities. It would be nice if the moderators of social networks remembered this.

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Tweet language

- Any language is designed in such a way that it strives for simplification and speed, this is not at all a phenomenon of modernity and not the result of the development of technology, as it might seem at first glance, - says the famous St. Petersburg psychoanalyst Dmitry Olshansky. - Whichever example we take, we will always see that the Greek language of Homer was many times more complex, richer and more metaphorical than the language of the Hellenistic era. The Old Church Slavonic language consisted of 6 cases and 47 letters, in the 19th century only 5 cases remained, and 35 letters, today there are only 33 (in recent years, even 32, since "e" and "e" actually turned into one letter). In English-speaking countries, even such a language as Simple English, consisting of 850 words, is in use, and since 2006 it has become one of the languages ​​of Wikipedia. Any system tends to simplify. This is the law. It is not surprising that the 140-character tweet has become the most widespread literary genre. No one will read a poem, and it is becoming more and more difficult to write them in a simplified language. And I hear from my editors that we used to urge authors to write as short as possible, but now few people can build a sentence longer than five words.

Today, there is a completely natural, but by no means modern, trend towards the separation of the spoken language and the written language: Simple English, in which we chat and tweet, and Complex English, in which we can write literature. The same thing happened at all times and with all languages: everyday language was fundamentally different from the language of culture, they had different functions and different goals.The spoken language serves everyday needs (to convey information, to inform the news, to express an opinion or attitude), therefore, it required minimal means of artistic expression, while the written language was not intended for communication at all, it was the language of art and lived according to completely different laws.

We observe a similar situation of language splitting today: on the one hand, we have the Twitter language, which does not need more complex constructions than “Mom washed the frame,” and the literary language in which our living classics write.

At the end of the last century, there was a lot of talk about the fact that the image supplants the writing, and, unfortunately, that the era of Gutenberg is ending, people use pictures more than words. However, today we see that thanks to the Internet, mankind has not only not lost the written channel for transmitting knowledge, moreover, each of us reads and writes texts every day: messages, tweets and posts. Epistolary culture was revived in a completely different format. It is thanks to the development of the Internet that the text has found a new life.

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Memes and classics

- Asking the question why visual information is more easily and quickly perceived, it is worth remembering that here a general idea or an abstract concept can be expressed through a specific image of reality, - says the candidate of medical sciences, assistant of the Department of Psychiatry and Narcology of the North-Western State Medical University named after N. I. I. Mechnikova, Olga Zadorozhnaya. - VA Zhmurov in his book "General Psychopathology" writes: "In artistic thinking, a high level of generalization and abstraction is achieved - many of the greatest ideas were first expressed in works of art." The so-called memes distributed on the Internet are a kind of artistic images. In the language accessible to the overwhelming majority of the audience, they express certain ideas and ideas. At the same time, memes often become a reflection of low-quality and rather primitive humor, which affects their popularity.

Our experts:

Dmitry Olshansky, psychoanalyst

Olga Zadorozhnaya

Candidate of Medical Sciences, Assistant of the Department of Psychiatry and Narcology, N.W. I. I. Mechnikova

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