Vector Phraseology, or My Infinite Relationship with Coffee

The way we talk on the internet reflects software in so many ways. Here's one: we now use vector phraseology to describe things on social media, and especially in memes.

What is vector phraseology? Well, I made it up. It's based on the definition of a vector graphic, as you use in eg. Adobe Illustrator if you're designing something. Where most digital image files contain an an image with a predetermined size, upon which you can zoom in or zoom out, losing and gaining image quality respectively, vector graphics are images that can be increased or decreased in size without ever losing image quality; in other words, the file contains all possibilities of the size that this image might be rendered at, in the form of, not exactly information, but a coded equation that can produce that information.

In other words, the vector contains all the possibilities.

I would argue this is related to certain phraseologies (vector phraseologies) that have arisen out of internet culture, ones like “all the things” (think a social media coffee cup image accompanied by the caption, “Drink coffee, do all the things”) or the “because-blank” phrasing (think a picture of a coffee mug with the phrase “Because coffee” on it).

"All the things" is a vector phraseology because “all the things” directly names an infinitum of possibility, in other words drawing specific attention to the fact that what you’re going to do can’t be named or shouldn’t be named, that it’s preferable to say something that's code for essentially anything.


“Because-blank” is a vector phraseology because it leaves an infinite possibility of relationship between the cup and the coffee. The cup exists because coffee exists; the cup is here because I like coffee; the cup is mine because I drink coffee; ad infinitum. Once again the pointedness of simply saying “Because coffee” underlines a resistance to defining the relationship, encoding instead an infinity of relationships.

Therein lies the real message: “[I/this cup] have an infinite relationship with coffee.”