As West Virginians, we’ve witnessed how our state has been portrayed by the internet and popular media through the years, and we’ve seen how damaging that can be. Luckily, things are looking better now than they have been for us in a long time. Through the use of memes on the internet, people all over the world are starting to see West Virginia with the same loving eyes we do. Instead of mocking and degrading, people are celebrating and wanting to learn more. It’s been a pleasure to see this happen in the eyes of this internet user, and I want to share my experience with my fellow mountaineers as well.
For the uninitiated, a “meme” is like an inside joke that users on the internet share. It comes in many forms, but for this case, it’s in the form of the familiar song “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” This song has been showing up in many forms of popular media recently, from Dwight and Andy singing it together in the breakroom in an episode of The Office, to an emotional distraction in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. As a result of its recent growth in popularity, people are using this song, and in turn, our state, to portray the wholesome and genuine idea of going home. These memes were most popular around July, but they still pop up occasionally on some Twitter and Reddit posts. The response to this meme is still great, and while no one ever particularly “hates” any meme, this one ends up leaving the reader with a good feeling about our state, which is typical when you compare it with the original song.
These memes launched into popularity around the time of the announcement of Fallout 76, and it’s no surprise why. Fallout is a historical fiction video game series where players experience a world like our own, but is scarred by a great nuclear war. This series of games has taken place in the alternate versions of Washington D.C., Las Vegas, and Boston. With the release of Fallout 76, this new multiplayer game takes place in our very own state of West Virginia. All of it. This is a huge deal; West Virginia has been featured in games before, but this is the first time ANY entire state has been featured in a game of this size. While it may be through the lens of a group of artists and not 100% accurate, players from all over the world get to share their virtual home with my real one.
Just the teaser trailer for this game alone put the Country Roads meme into the spotlight, and along with it brought nostalgic feelings of going home to play with your friends, exploring strange new places, and preparing your home for a better tomorrow. I can only hope that the presence of West Virginia on the internet stays as strong as it has been, and that more people understand what it feels like to share this state, home, or idea we call “Almost Heaven”.
Originally from Clarksburg, Russell Short is working in Huntington, West Virginia at Core10 for the 2018 Generation WV Impact Fellowship. As a software developer, he pursues his passion of increasing access to technology in the Mountain State.
You can follow him on Instagram @rcshort.
Like party favors, but for your brain. Enjoy these web goodies including viral videos, interesting articles, curated playlists, and more!
- LISTEN: When a playlist is a meme, and a meme is a playlist
- LISTEN: Fallout 76: Appalachia Radio is a radio staton in Fallout 76 set in 2102
- READ: West Virginia is so ready for its Fallout 76 close-up
- LEARN MORE: The History of The Country Roads Meme, with Examples
> AWARD: GWV Executive Director Natalie Roper was named a “Young Gun” by West Virginia Executive Magazine. Congratulations, Natalie! Read about it here.
> LEARN MORE: The new class of Generation West Virginia’s Impact Fellowship is here! To meet this year’s Fellows and learn more about the program, click here.
> COMING SOON: Speaking of the Impact Fellowship, applications for next year’s cohort will open on December 19th. Make sure to apply or share this info with potential applicants ASAP! Learn more here.
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