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Posts tagged ‘meme’

When is a Meme a Meme?

It’s meme week!

I think to begin this post, it is only fitting to share some of my thoughts in meme form:



memes everywhere





But what exactly makes a meme?

I guess a meme is typically funny, usually culturally relevant or speaks to a niche group, it’s shared, copied and altered online and it doesn’t hurt if it features either Sean Bean, an animal, or a child. They don’t have to be a picture either, it can be a video or even text, something like ‘first world problems’ could be considered a meme. But I will tell you this, the more I learn about them, the less I seem to understand.

The reading for this week was ‘The Language of Internet Memes’ by Patrick Davison. You can access it here:


The reading attempted to give a definition of them, it talked about playing soccer and zebras getting eaten by lions and I didn’t really get it, I think that was mainly because uni is nearly over for the semester and my brain power is fading, but I do plan on giving it a re-read when I have the time.

Memes are one of those things that exist, and are relevant and everyone shares, but I feel like no-ones quite sure about them just yet.

I think there are two ways that advertisers/marketers try to use memes.

1. They use a preexisting meme to advertise their product/service. Examples:

This one is really clever because the use of first world problems not only uses the meme but also makes fun of it, in the sense that they aren’t really problems are they? A meme within a meme if you will. By doing this, they really manage to get the message across in a way that puts it in perspective for people in the Western world.


This is a simple example of using a meme in an ad, you get the idea.

2. They try to create a new meme that will be shared. Example:

This one is very popular. Therefore, it has been copied many times, they created something totally new and a character that people wanted to copy.

I’m not really sure what the difference is between a viral video and a meme, I suppose as long as it starts on the internet and is made fun of or copied it can be considered both a viral video and a meme. How many times does it need to be copied or shared to become a meme? I’m not sure, I suppose only once might make it a meme for a specific group such a friendship group, a class, an office, but it would have no relevance to a larger group who wouldn’t consider it a meme or even necessarily understand it.

It should be noted that perhaps the reason that memes aren’t seen a lot in advertising is the legal mess related to using them. Here’s some additional information about that:



So, are memes relevant to understanding online and mobile media? Yes and no, I think you could certainly understand online and mobile media without understanding what memes are, but eventually you will stumble across something that is a meme, and you wont understand it and understand its relevance and that will be a confusing day for you. There are many memes that I don’t get, but I come to the conclusion that I’m not supposed to get them. Knowing what memes are probably isn’t going to add any significant value to your life, it wont get you a university degree (although it is contributing to mine), it wont win you any Nobel prizes or help you discover the mysteries of the world, but it might make you laugh once in a while, and it might give you a new way to express your thoughts on things. There’s only so much you can say about memes, the best way to understand them is by looking at them, working out which memes relate to you, and then have a go at creating them. That makes it very convenient that the internet is full of them, go on, search away, I wont take up any more of your time with my ramblings.