If a vision of post-apocalyptic America overrun with glassy-eyed teens communicating solely through image macros doesn’t sound appealing to you, you might not be a big fan of Blurtt, the new iPhone app that wants to help you “better express yourself” though memes.
The thinking behind Blurtt goes like this: sometimes words can’t express everything we want them to. In real life, we have gestures, facial expressions and vocal timbres to help convey meaning. But over digital communication, all of these physical cues become moot, and what remains threatens the very existence of semantic devices like sarcasm (see what we did there?).
Since the SarcMark never really caught on, Blurtt cofounder Jeanette Cajide wants to use images to help convey meaning. It all sounds very lofty, considering the app is more likely to be used as a mobile meme generator than a modern day linguistic savior.
“Our motto is to say more with less,” Cajide told TechCrunch. “If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a Blurtt is worth a tiny bit more than 1,000.”
It’s an interesting proposition, and one that only slightly terrifies this reporter. Considering the recent Pew study that demonstrated that teens are forgoing other methods of communication to send absurd amounts of text messages daily, the future of verbal communication doesn’t look very promising. Not to go all Jonathan Franzen on you, but what if people just learned how to better use words instead of whittling their sentiments down into drawings of awkward penguins?
Perchance to dream. Photo sharing apps are having a moment. In October, we covered Piictu, a TechStars company that offers a similar mobile meme generator. Piictu also incorporates gaming mechanics into its model to incentivize engagement. Apparently, both companies also got the same naming memo, though Blurtt opts for two consonants instead of two vowels to spice up its name. What, no Blurt.ly?
As image macros continue to trickle down from 4chan message boards into the mainstream, the new wave of photo sharing apps elbowing for space in an already crowded market seem to be fixated with mobile memes. We’re all for the rise of more mobile memes, just as long as they don’t take the place of genuine conversation. Maybe there’s a little Jonathan Franzen in us after all.