What are memes? What makes a cat with total disregard for humanity so funny? Moreover, have you ever wondered why meme is called meme?
It’s a funny thing. Social scientists and historians have much to say about these widely spread images. The whole of the internet looks to memes as easy-to-communicate ideas.
If you’re curious why a meme is more popular than any political debate, you’ll want to keep reading. Let’s find out why meme culture became the bee to the internet’s bonnet.
One Does Not Simply Define A Meme
Actually, one tries to. Memes started off as an idea that passes through a culture. Richard Dawkins was the first to coin the term, and it took a while before the idea acted like its definition and became mainstream.
Mike Godwin later presented the internet meme for the first time. He compared memes to a viral infection. In his breakout meme-article (which has in its own right became one) Godwin talked about the “Nazi-comparison” meme.
The idea is if any debate carries on for long enough, eventually one party will compare the other to Hitler. This is known as Godwin’s Law. Mike Godwin proposed that internet memes acted on the same schedule, repeating through online debates again and again.
These two definitions lead us to current memes and meme culture. Modern memes are now a funny image with a clever tag. Images are copied with small adjustments, creating a network of shared content. Just like Godwin described, modern memes are viruses, except these infect people with images of Expanding Brain or Evil Kermit.
Why Meme Is Called Meme
The word meme is a shortened version of the Greek “mimema”, which translates to “imitated thing”. It’s possible the Greek meaning influenced our modern definition of meme. In other words, a concept repeats by imitation and adjustment.
When did memes become popular? Some internet historians think memes like the “ROFLcopter” and Admiral Ackbar’s “It’s A Trap!” were the earliest digital memes. Video game specific memes like Zero Wing’s “All Your Bases Belong To Us” prove that memes became popular as media grew.
The internet allowed gamers, movie fanatics, and others to have a common base of knowledge through memes. Memes gave nerds a universal language.
Layers Between Meme Culture
Memes have become more ironic over time. This evolution resulted in lazier and crazier ways of distorting images and ideas. For example, dank memes are a subgenre of normal memes that specifically rely on irony as a comedic device.
Dank memes attempt to subvert common memes. In lay-meme terms, dank memes started as “cooler” versions of common internet jokes. Over time, these bits of humor started including arbitrary aspects of culture that everyone understood.
For instance, Mark Zuckerburg has become a meme. Memesters online have compared Zuckerburg to an alien and a robot, because he seems to lack normal human attributes. (Researchers have yet to find conclusive evidence as to Zuck’s humanity, but research is ongoing ;))
This trend ended up landing on surreal memes. At this point, an idea is reproduced so many times that it doesn’t make any sense. If this doesn’t seem right, let me clarify: each time a meme is shared, somebody makes a small change to it — like a game of telephone — and sometimes the end result is completely obscene. With Facebook’s launch of its own cryptocurrency, the trend is only going to get more expansive.
Vine memes are an example of current memes that imitate the format of Vine, a former video sharing app. Youtube ended up absorbing Vine — more or less — and what’s left are archives of the most shared Vine videos among millennials.
Vine memes show that memetics can transcend simple images and text. They include any category of an idea that can spread quickly and be repeated.
Pepe The Frog is one of the earlier memes of the internet-age. Over the years, Pepe was co-opted by the right wing, and Pepe The “Sad Frog” became “Smug Frog” or “Donald Trump Pepe.” Matt Furie, Pepe’s creator, has gone so far as to take legal action and won to stop the far-right from using the meme as a symbol of hate.
4Chan Is A Meme Tornado
4Chan is an imageboard website launched October 1, 2003. It began as a website for manga and anime enthusiasts. Over time 4Chan gained thousands then millions of users and is now notorious as a hotbed of far-right, often anonymous, posting. 4Chan ended up creating a hotbed for controversial — to put it mildly — meme development.
The website still fosters tons of subgenres and communities, just like Reddit, though one rarely sees something come out of 4Chan that is not far-right oriented. These users create and spread the common memes you or I come by. In some ways — and unfortunately — 4Chan is the first in the line of meme-spreaders.
4Chan starts the chain, then usually Imgur or Reddit carries things forward. Sometimes even, Tumblr has their say in the royal pot of memes. 4Chan includes all kinds of memes, but almost specifically focuses on far-right, controversial topics.
If you want something that’s safe for work, stick to Reddit and Imgur for your memes. Furthermore, you can use some of these sites as inspiration for your podcast.
Use Your Memes For Good (Please)
This post has educated you about the strange history of memes. They started as a biologists decree and ended up a mishmash of verbal trickery and Leo Dicaprio pictures.
If you’re wondering why meme is a sociable idea, do some research on your own time. You won’t regret it.
You’ve learned about the history and mechanics of memes, so what’s next? Don’t wait around hopelessly bored, when you can laugh away your sorrows. It’s time you found a podcast that really made you laugh.
You need to check out The Podcast of No Return if you want family-friendly comedy, on a platform that’s easy to sit back and consume. It’s never too late to laugh. Move on from memes to a quality podcast today!