Have you ever heard someone mention the word “meme”, but weren’t sure what they were talking about? But you laughed and nodded with enthusiasm anyway? And then went home, grabbed your laptop, and isolated yourself from all other humans until you were fully versed in all things MEME? Yeah, me too.
Memes (rhymes with beams) have been around for a very long time – before the Internet, for sure. Before your were born. Before your parents were bor…well, you get the picture. According to Wikipedia, meme is short for mimeme, meaning “something imitated”. They are essentially the spreading of ideas throughout cultures. Some memes are stronger than others, representing the value system of an entire country. Other memes are more localized. But the point is, they’re everywhere, and they’re fantastic! Check out this little video for a well detailed history of memes. For a different take on memes, check out this other, funnier video on the ever popular #FAIL meme:
But what I love more than ANYTHING about memes, is how they’ve taken on new meming (sorry) through the Internet and social networks that are capable of making ideas, pictures, phrases or videos go viral. Any online community that has user-submitted content is doubtlessly inundated with meme-worthy (and unworthy) contributions on an hourly basis. YouTube, Reddit, 4chan (nsfw), Facebook, Twitter – just five examples of massive online meme-havens.
Remember when Kanye West stole Taylor Swift’s microphone when she was accepting the MTV VMA for Best Female Video in 2009?
“Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!...”
And then every person you know wouldn’t stop saying it for weeks after, but with their own subtext? That was the birth of the “Interrupting Kanye” meme! In the hour after Kanye’s interruption, over 300,000 people tweeted about it. This particular meme went viral instantly because the VMAs was televised live, and was viewed by millions of people. Other memes are a little slower on the uptake, but their staying power is legendary. Remember that 1999 movie Office Space?
Twelve years on, and I bet right now you’re thinking of Lumberg holding a coffee while leaning against a cubicle. Like I said, memes are fantastic. Fantastic!
For the very best, the latest, the most wide-reaching global Internet memes you’ll ever hope to find, one website has it all: Know Your Meme. This is your one-stop shop to stay current with memes. Not only does this site show you the meme (typically in picture or video format), but they also list each meme’s name, origin, “birthday”, additional resources, and relevant tags. They even show a chart graph of each meme’s analytical journey from referential obscurity to revered memeness!
From another point of view, memes can help (or hurt) commercial businesses in the online social foray. Have you ever experienced “The Blue Screen of Death”? It’s the fail screen that some Microsoft users see when their computer crashes or has boot up issues. It’s also the color of IBM’s logo. Having a negative nickname become a household phrase for your company’s failing product does not make for happy marketing meetings. On the other hand, some companies have skyrocketed into meme royalty. Think of that Verizon commercial with the dude on the phone.
“Can you hear me now? Good!”
– I, for one, would always say that phrase when on the phone in a dodgy wireless reception area. And because I’m an AT&T subscriber, every time I say that line, I think of how much better my coverage would be if I was with Verizon.
For the most part, memes are to be shared and enjoyed. Here’s one of my favorite memes from the Demotivational Poster series for you to enjoy. And share. 🙂
Finally, if you want to create your own picture meme, you can visit Meme Generator, of course!