I was eavesdropping on my teenage kids the other day and they were talking about a meme they saw on Instagram. I thought to myself, what exactly is a meme and how does it relate to social media. So I opened up Wikipedia and researched meme and there before me was this extensive description of this word – wow! According to Wikipedia a meme is “an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”. The site also mentioned that they closely resemble genes in the way that they self-replicate and mutate. I wonder what Darwin would think.
Richard Dawkins coined the term in 1976 in his book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins stated that if you want to understand life “don’t think about vibrant, throbbing gels and oozes, think about information technology”. So here we have it – the power of ideas spreading at an alarming rate through social media.
So what exactly is a meme in the world of social media. Well, it generally is an image, text or video that is humorous in nature. It is any digital content that is passed from one to another via the internet. It can be altered slightly when passed along very much like the game ‘broken telephone’. A good example of this is ‘Be Like Bill‘ which is a meme which can altered by each person to convey a message regarding life choices. Although usually humorous it at times can be passive-aggressive in nature as its intent is to make fun of people.
Memes have certainly taken the world of social media by storm. Everybody remembers ‘Gangnam Style‘ by South Korean rapper Psy that went viral in 2012. It was a ‘music’ video that poked fun at the people who live in the Gangnam District of Seoul, Korea. When I watched it (again) on February 10 it has had 2,759,093,891 views. What a marketer’s dream.
The main reason why memes are so popular is that they are easy to create and you can use them to convey a message that is simple and yet effective. In the social media world you only have a few seconds to grab one’s attention and a meme does it so well. People generally find them funny and will want to share them – great. But what happens if they go too far and end up offending someone? Well, now there are memes that poke fun at the issue of being offended.
So…what is your viewpoint of memes? If you like memes click here to read about a University offering a major in Meme Studies.
Memes: a social media phenomena that has gone wild. Are they here to stay? http://bit.ly/2lzhFBO
#Memes: a #social media #gene gone wild? http://bit.ly/2lzhFBO