Memes are a part of everyday Internet life. You cannot deny that. Ever since you started using the Internet, memes have existed. But we never gave much thought about what exactly is a meme, what its purpose is, and how attached it is to our daily cyber life.
Originally, a meme is an “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” That isn’t a very specific definition at all, which is why it is apt. There are no definite boundaries set to describe a meme per se. A meme can be a picture with a top and bottom text in Impact font, graffiti dating back to WWII, lying flat on anywhere physically possible, or a WWE wrestler with an unforgettable intro.
Thanks to Meme Documentation, God’s gift to the Internet, there are currently four distinct qualities of a meme. These do not encompasses all memes, just the trends that can be identified in most of them.
Firstly, memes have a “shelf-life” in a sense. A meme can be popular but not too popular. Recognition and understanding a meme divides the Internet into two. For those who recognize the meme, they send an implied message that they are internet cultured. If everyone becomes cultured, then the meme loses its significance.
Secondly, memes should be able to be mimicked. As mentioned by Meme Documentation, a celebrity’s death could cross cultures and become popular news but it is not a meme. The same goes for news that there was water found on Mars or when love won in the USA. Reproduction is not the amount of times the post is shared but rather the capability of it being taken by anyone and be mimicked. The meme could have specific formats, like the flirtatious “‘Bro?’ ‘Bro.’” meme, or could be more conceptual, like the idea of the Skeleton War. The idea of it being cross-cultural enters here because one could mimic a meme to be only understood by their culture. For example, someone were to make an Unexpected John Cena meme using a clip of AlDub as its initial setting. Recently I saw on my timeline the Civil War meme, but instead of having Captain America and Tony Stark arguing, it was Cap calling out Heneral Luna on language.
Could we say that people can be obsessed with memes?
There was a very dark time this year where we could not escape these “cute” and “quirky” blobs of yellow because everyone’s relative above forty were obsessed with them. It wasn’t even the minions themselves but the pictures of random quotes with a random minion/s on it. One couldn’t even escape them in real life because department stores from here and there were decked out in minion merchandise. Thus, anti-minion culture entered due to people’s irritation with these humanoid bananas. While people were obsessed with them there were people who were obsessed in hating them. The minion movement was an intense clash of two cultures over a neutral object that happened to be trending at the moment. This rare occurrence on the Internet has recently died down and I hope it shall never live again.
Aside from this, I would like to focus on something less extreme and more ordinary. Everyday you would enjoy the presence or the experience of the meme. Sometimes, you’d be compelled to mimic or reference a meme, whether it be in a face-to-face conversation, instant messaging, or through social media. This is because memes are inseparable with Internet culture and to be well-versed in Internet culture gives you a superior feeling. Knowledge is power and using it is the assertion of your authority. In the Internet, everyone may seem to be equal yet at the same time, some are higher than others. As mentioned earlier, memes divide the Internet into two: those who are in and those who are out.
- Anna Cayco
Sources: 1 | 2