Football, or soccer as it’s known in North America, is the most popular sport in the world. Hundreds of thousands get up early, stay up late, or skip work to watch important games, not to mention the world cup. However, the action starts well before the season, a time that can make or break your favorite team, the transfer window. This is the period of the year in which a team or a club can transfer players from other countries onto their team.
— Carlos (@JoseCarlos_DJ11) September 6, 2013
Although the transfer window can be stressful and exciting for everyone, the Transfer Deadline Day (#TransferDeadlineDay), which is the final day of transfers, is when most of the excitement happens. This is when the world’s football fans sit and refresh their news and Twitter feeds, eagerly waiting to see if they’re losing a favorite player or gaining one. Memes and rumors spread quickly.
— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale22) September 2, 2013
Aside from major events of geopolitical importance like an announcement of war or the lunar landing, #TransferDeadlineDay is one of the largest collective experiences of anxious waiting I can think of. I’d be curious to hear other examples, but it seems like major sporting events are the most common and effective means of bringing everyone into one shared experience. Sports fans around the world furiously discuss the live-events on social media, rumors and debates abound, we are obsessed with having the most up to date information from any source offering it, and increasingly we are quick to create our own images and content around the events. It is no surprise that #TransferDeadlineDay on Twitter became a hub of reaction memes about obsessive waiting, shock, and surprise.
— Joe Botton (@joebotton1983) September 2, 2013
The traditional publishing models offered by newspapers, TV, and even sometimes blogs, are too slow for our need to know and interact with the latest news of these types of events. Official publishing platforms often limit themselves to more polished work, and perhaps play it safe to maintain a good reputation, whereas memes coupled with news stories are often about quickly capturing funny connections or reactions. It’s incredibly hard to predict what memes will go viral, and most publishers aren’t willing to bet on it yet.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) September 3, 2013
To organize this flurry of news, we make our own hashtags, like #TransferDeadlineDay to organize the conversation; to partake in the collective experience we insert our reaction memes; and to have a voice in the thousands of participants, we create our own memes and content. These reactions and memes are more representative of our personal experiences of the events than the hard facts, the journalists can worry about those.
— TheArmoryVlog (@TheArmoryVlog) September 2, 2013
True to the quality of #TransferDeadlineDay it is no surprise that most popular images floating around were these staring faces, the shocked reactions, or the gleeful celebrations. These images are a powerful vehicle for the emotional experience that speaks across languages, and for such a global event, that is incredibly meaningful. These simple and lighthearted reaction memes become vehicles for deeper collective experiences of events being watched all over the world, seeing how they evolve and shape the media will be important moving forward.