The Dance(s) of Modern Life

Arjun Basu
3 min readAug 27, 2022

Remember the promise of jet packs?

I’m not sure whether all the dancing on social media is because the world is in bad shape or the world is in bad shape because, but not exclusively because, of all the dancing on social media.

We live in a world where a lot of people demonstrate their dance moves on social media. Then become memes. Then these dancesmemes show up on other platforms. Then the dancememes get picked up by, um, influencers and celebrities (I’m going to say “influencer” is a more honest word than “celebrity” by a long shot while also being a lot more annoying, probably because it is more honest and also because it’s so overused to explain…a lot), who then mainstream it into the world by way of “traditional media” (like TV and newspapers and even magazines), only for the dancememe to get danced-off when a new dance appears.

On TikTok, let’s be real. It’s always TikTok.

Meanwhile, well, yes, the world is either burning or flooding or heating up or drying out or melting or all of the above all at once, while animals are going extinct or being pushed into new terrain along with flora and crops fail and humans go hungry, which is partly caused also by wars (there’s more than one!), which are caused by people who are no good at history or read it in a particular manner because they are aggrieved or just, you know, embrace their own pathologies, or just genuinely hate people, especially other people and by other we mean almost everyone else (I used to say “people who don’t look like you” but if Putin can tell the difference between a Russian and a Ukrainian, hats off because I sure can’t unless we’re talking about folk dancers and then it becomes easy). The othering of others is another topic. A large one. And tangentially, othering feels more ideological and less racial lately. But I’m not quite sure and saying it feels wrong.

Back to dancing. Are TikTok dancememes “art”? I think almost everything is art and in many definitions of art I would suggest dancememes are art, yes. Art is a construct to explain things to others. If people weren’t complicated there would be no art. It’s because people are complicated, and like to complicate things (look at anything you might be watching on television now and it’s really about a bunch of people trying to solve a stupidly…

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Arjun Basu

Writer. Complainer. I drink bourbon. I work in content, branding and strategy. Next novel, The Reeds, out in 2024. @arjunbasu in many places.