What do you meme?

Before reading articles regarding the Internet meme I didn’t know much about them only that they tend to be a mimicry using pictures and phrases that imitate a certain photo or video that was trending at that time. However, the technical definition claims, a meme is ” an image, video, piece of text, that is often altered in a humorous way, and spreads rapidly by Internet users (Web Definitions). Users tend to create memes to critique or make fun of something, usually whatever is trending at that time. For example, Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie was trending seconds after it was posted on the Internet and thousands of users started creating different memes mimicking the photo. Users share the meme across various social media platforms, and Facebook is generally one of the last places they end up.


Kendzior defines memes as, “units of culture, which spread virally through commentary, imitations, and parody” (Kendzior). She describes them as a ‘participatory form of campaigning, in which gifs created by average people trump and subvert the propaganda of candidates’ (Kendzior). She claims that memes rely on constant awareness and participation, which ties into Gleick’s reading when he explains how ideas tend to breed and help evolve new ideas. Users feed off of each other’s ideas to make their own ideas, which creates the rapid spread of Internet memes. As Roger Sperry says, Ideas interact with each other and with other mental forces in the same brain, in neighboring brains, and thanks to global communication, in far distant, foreign brains (Gleick). The accessibility of the Internet makes it very easier for people to share their opinions and ideas for the rest of the world creating discussions.

Sarah Kendzior writes, “Memes create the illusion of participation in a political system from which people feel increasingly alienated, a system run on wealth that is incomprehensible to normal people”. With this statement, Sarah means that people, who are not directly associated with political parties or the upper elite groups, tend to use memes to feel as though they are ‘participating’ in the political world. Many of the Internet memes are based off of current events or trends, in which users alter them in a humorous or sarcastic way to express their point of view on the issue. So, when people do not understand or agree with the political system they use memes to participate. Although, people may feel like they are participating in politics when they generate memes, they are not making a difference like they would if they were to go to the polls to vote against whoever or whatever they disagree with.

Sarah agues that the power of the meme makes the public forget the real issue (Kendzior). I disagree with this argument because the internet is the quickest way to voice your opinion as it is so easy for users to access anything they want, when they want. Memes are an excellent way to do this because they are simple and get straight to the point rather then include multiple sentences. However, by posting it on the Internet this does not mean that people are going to do something about the issue, but they will continue to share it online. In most cases, going beyond the Internet does not fit into people’s busy schedules or they are only interested via computer. For example, when the issue of Kony kidnapping children in Uganda to build an army went viral many people shared articles, but out of that many only few actually tried to do something about it. However, I do believe that some people have the ability to use memes and the Internet to help change an issue, but it depends on how dedicated and compassionate the person is about the topic.

ImageMemes are very important to our culture because they allow individuals a chance to critique and express their opinions on whatever they want and share it across various social media networks. Memes can be viewed by as many people as want to view it, as many times as they want, and as quickly as they can request it (Davison, 123). Although, users can use Facebook or Twitter to express their opinions, a picture with fewer words will be noticed a lot quicker. Since memes are used as ways users can voice their opinion and they have the ability to quickly be shared it makes it easier for users to facilitate discussions and debates. The meme is an efficient way to spread awareness and voice your opinion to the public.



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