History of Memes

by, Olivia and Ryan

Memes have been around for decades, but only recently have they become viral around the world. The term, “meme,” was coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976. A meme is defined as a cultural idea that self-replicates and spreads among people.  It is commonly seen as a picture that has a clever, funny, or sarcastic caption, that someone came up with, on the image.  The meme falls into the category of Web 2.0 because it is a form of media, an image, easy to use and create, and can be used/created multiple times.  Some popular memes are the “Y U NO…”, “Bad Luck Brian”, “The Crazy Girlfriend”.  In Currents in Communications, Chapter 10: Evolution of Media Systems says that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media sites give forms of Web 2.0, such a the meme, their popularity in the world.  According to “What makes a video go viral? An analysis of contagion and internet memes” other things that contribute to the popularization of memes are results of the human emotion, social influence, and online behavior.  Viral videos and and sites such as “Can I Have a Cheezburger?” are able to make money from turning the popular content into tangible items like t-shirts.  “Can I Have a Cheezburger” turns their popular memes into t-shirts, books, etc. Here is a video of the top ten internet memes. 

Our experience with creating memes was quick and simple.  All we did was go to a meme generator, select an image or upload an image, and then caption it.  The part of the process that took the most time was coming up with something funny to caption the image.  Our memes did not generate any buzz in the social media universe due to only posting them to our class blog. The internet is constantly growing and it is very difficult to make a video go viral without a lot of advertising and sharing amongst different profiles. People are more likely to share a video if they have an emotional response of connection to it. This being said, there are millions of memes online and only a few that become viral, just like videos and regular pictures. Although making a meme is easy, making it famous is nearly impossible.



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