For the most part, memes are not my favorite aspect of the Internet. As humor, they wear out for me very fast. It’s somewhat like being at a party and having one person after another walk up and tell you the same joke, each one of them convinced that they are being clever and witty. Usually, the joke wasn’t that funny to begin with, but after the 50th time or so, it’s all you can do to make your mouth twitch in a token impression of a smile, rather than braining them with the nearest potted plant.
I should mention at this point that I don’t get invited to many parties.
But here’s a case in which a meme was made to serve good, rather than evil. Thanks to a fusion of Internet currency with a cute dog meme and crowdfunding, the Jamaican bobsled team will be able to go to the Winter Olympics in Sochi this year.
Dogecoin is an Internet currency that’s kind of a rebranded, cuter version of Bitcoin. The logo of Dogecoin is based on the “Doge” meme, which is kind of like the canine equivalent of LOLCAT pictures, which is to say that it can be adorable or annoying, depending on your mood. The meme features broken English words written in Comic Sans font on a picture of Kabosu, a Shiba Inu dog. Some media figures declared it “dead” in December, when Republican legislators started tweeting Doge pictures to attack the Affordable Care Act and budget spending.
However, the success of Dogecoin’s crowdfunding campaign for the Jamaican Bobsled Team shows that there may be some life in the old meme yet. On Saturday, Winston Watt and Marvin Dixon learned that they had qualified to compete in the Olympic Games. But the happy news came with some bitter: They didn’t have the money to go. So naturally, they did what everyone does in the 21st century: They turned to the Internet.
One of the people who heard the plea was Liam Butler, head of the Dogecoin Foundation. Butler has been a fan since he saw the film Cool Runnings as a kid.
“As someone who grew up in the ’90s, Cool Runnings was the ultimate feel-good movie about underdogs out of their element achieving their dreams,” he told UPI. “When I was about seven years old, my best friend and I had a billy-cart that his dad built. When we would start our run down his driveway, we would shout out the catchphrase from the movie: ‘Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s bobsled time!'”
With those memories in mind, Butler and the Dogecoin Foundation started up a campaign called Dogesled to send Watt and Dixon to the Olympics. It succeeded in a way that they couldn’t have imagined. Not only did the Dogesled campaign raise more than $25,000 in real cash for the team, the value of Dogecoin shot up 50 percent within 12 hours.
“We started without a concrete plan in mind,” Butler said. “I sent a few emails out … but that was the extent of it.”
Plan or not, the result is that the Jamaican Bobsled Team will be going to Sochi to compete. Jamaican Olympic officials and the Sochi Organizing Committee have said that they will cover Watt and Dixon’s transport expenses, but the donations will still be used for equipment and training. It looks like cute dog pictures and a little good will really can take you a long way.
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