An Essay About Dabbing

A brief note from the writer: Though my original, "Open Letter to the Masses," may have seemed like an indicator that this blog would have serious themes and subject matters, it is important to realize that I am, at heart, a man that wishes to entertain. This essay is something that I've wanted to write for a long time. Without further delay, I present to you, my essay on dabbing.

The Importance of Dabbing: A Brief Essay on the Human Experience

by T.C. Barrera

On November 15, 2015, the by then no longer exclusive world of memes was fully introduced to a new, partially hated, partially loved meme, a dance move called the "dab."  Upon scoring against the Tennessee Titans, the Carolina Panthers' quarterback, Cam Newton, engaged in a post touchdown dance move that would grow in popularity through the internet for the rest of 2015, and into 2016.  Newton, however, was not the true originator of the move.  Originally, the dab was created for the Atlanta hip-hop scene in 2013. It is executed when an individual places their head into the inside of the elbow of one arm, while simultaneously raising the other arm into the air, as if to cover a sneeze or cough. Though many may see the dab as a useless, idiotic product of the millennial's use of the internet, I see the dab as a case study on what exactly it means to experience life, not just as a millennial, but as a regular, functional member of the human race. 

To start, the phenomenon and popularity of dabbing can be viewed as a clear indicator as to what entertains and excites the general masses of modern society, giving large groups of people something they can all relate to, which, in turn, allows common ground and acceptance to permeate those large groups of people. Celebrities from all walks of entertainment, from film to television to sports arena, have been seen partaking in the act.  Tom Hanks, Russell Westbrook, Stevie Wonder and so many others have been seen, "hittin' 'em with that dab."  In response, hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, have found entertainment in the dab through videos, Vines, and picture memes.  To answer why and how the phenomena spread so quickly, one must simply take into consideration the fact that, if large groups of influential people begin to take part in one, recognizable action, the people influenced by them will begin emulating that action. It may stem from the idea that the average person wants to be accepted, not just by their peers in society, but by the people in higher positions than they find themselves in.  Further, to address the former, the average member of society will emulate their peers if they see that doing the same thing as everyone else results in the acceptance so many clamor for.  To put it briefly, a majority of normally functioning members of society desire acceptance in one way or the other.  Through the shared knowledge of, and the partaking in, the recognizable action of dabbing, many find exactly what they are looking for: common ground and acceptance.  

To tell the truth, (and that, as I said, is the purpose of this blog), dabbing is this: simple, easy to execute, and just plain fun, which are three things that are constantly sought after in the every day happenings of life. Unlike so many dance moves before it, the dab is not reserved specifically for those with an education in hip hop dance, or any dance, for that matter.  Though the demographic that the dab is centered on is seemingly millennials and most young people, with most videos recorded of the dab done by the aforementioned group, individuals of all ages have been seen having fun with the dab.  To quantify further how broad the audience of the dab is, my thoughts go to the lyrics of artist Macklemore's 2013 contemporary classic, Thrift Shop, ". . . Your grammy, your aunty, your momma, your mammy. . ."  Further than this, the dab can be hit during such a HUGE variety of songs that many can claim that it is one of the most dynamic, flexible dance move of all time. Some (though not many) may even claim that it is "timeless." To find reasoning behind this, one must simply take a look at the societal trends that have been taking place over the past few years.  Modern society has given way to a mentality that things must be easy and convenient (a thought that I'll discuss in a later post), which is easily seen through not just our memes, but through all our living commodities. Given these points, it can easily be claimed that the dab is a clear illustration of what humans in modern society strive for, that is: simplicity.

Most importantly, dabbing allows us to laugh, not just at the act itself, but at ourselves, and, in turn, modern society.  The very concept of dabbing is somewhat moronic when put under a magnifying glass.  In popular culture, "dabbing" originally referred to the process of smoking a very concentrated form of cannabis, an act not generally associated with deep levels of thinking and highly intelligent people (though, bear in mind that there are people who achieve high levels of thinking that regularly smoke weed. I'm not saying there aren't, I just haven't met many).  After this, the most recognized meaning of the "dab" among the general populace became a dance move even a child could carry out with ease.  It is most commonly used in a joking matter, with very few people using it on the internet to show off actual dancing skill.  It has become a typical joke to see those you would not associate with the hip hop dance community, hitting the proverbial dab.  The most easily explainable reasoning behind this is that humans enjoy laughter in one way or the other.  In this case, laughter is found by partaking in something an individual wouldn't usually associate themselves with, thus experiencing a walk of life they wouldn't otherwise experience.  By viewing another walk of life as an outsider, an individual may come to recognize the sometimes idiotic, often inane daily happenings of modern society.  At any rate, it is important to laugh at our own society.  It allows us to appreciate the lives we live and the little, meaningless things that make up our lives.  It is important to enjoy those things. In a sense, the old adage is true: it is important to enjoy the little things.  

In summation, dabbing is just another internet trend. In reality, I could have replaced dabbing with anything from "Damn Daniel," to the new(ish), highly favored Harambe memes.  Regardless, the point still stands: to experience the things that modern society holds as exciting, fun, and interesting is important, if not just for acceptance, for the purpose of laughing at our own condition.  The condition that sees us assigning meaning and importance behind the most menial of actions.  The condition that sees millions finding common ground in something so inane and pointless as internet memes.  That's all they are: pointless internet memes. It's the importance we as a civilization assign to them that gives them external meaning. Just as I so deeply look into the meaning behind the popularity of these trends, many put time and effort into reading deeply into things that may not matter in the grand scheme of this thing we call life.


Thank you for reading.  If you enjoyed, don't hesitate to comment and share.