You must have been living under a rock or hibernating in a cave if you are a millennial, and you do not know what memes are. We are now thriving in the era of abundant Internet memes invading our social media platforms and eventually fixating a slot in our daily lives. However, such a slot may be more consuming for some individuals (including myself). Well, that makes it memology – the study of internet memes or, should I say, "Immersing yourselves in the modern art of memes that you can literally reference to or make a meme out of any situation?" The latter is long-winded, so let's stick to the first definition.
Let's rewind to the very origin of memes. The history dated back to 1976 when Richard Dawkins – a biologist – published a book named, The Selfish Gene. (Radcliffe, 2017)In this book, he stated that "ideas were like organisms, able to spread and mutate." On top of that, he added a concept that some ideas tend to become more widespread – viral – than others, naming it "mimeme". It is derived from the Greek word meaning "replicated." He then abbreviated it to "meme" as it resonates with "genes" since they could be duplicated and multiplied. In definition, a meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads through imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning referring to a particular phenomenon. (Radcliffe, 2017)
The exact definition makes it sound substantial and perplexing when, in reality, memes are simply a picture or a short video with a caption. In the internet age, memes are reaching a peak of popularity. It has even become a mode of communication for many young people as we appear to dismiss the traditional exchanging about each other's daily life. Instead, we send each other memes and talk about them. Well, we can view this as a way of bonding as we find ourselves laughing at or relating to the gags illustrated in the memes.
Asides from communication, young people often turn to memes as a coping mechanism even at serious times like right now. Ever since the coronavirus news came swinging into social media, there has not been a day we have not scrolled through at least one meme about the coronavirus, the lockdown, or the quarantine period. Yet, most of us seem to be cackling at those memes, regardless of the seriousness of the situation. In a way, this is tackling the anxiety and paranoia that we face from reading all the grave news elsewhere. However, this does not mean that we are taking the situation lightly. We just need a little distraction or getaway from all the hustle and bustle that is happening all over the world.
In short, scrolling through memes on Instagram or Facebook is a rapid and effortless way to sprinkle humor in our daily lives. It can take some edge off a stressful day, or put us in a lighter and better mood. Now that most of us are staying at home, sharing memes with our friends is an easy way to socialize and keep in touch with each other. However, the downside of memes is the content or the message they are conveying. Sharing memes is harmless until some of them consist of racism, discrimination, or inappropriate content that may offend or cause detriment to certain people. Hence, we all must be aware of the memes that we post on our social media. Like organisms, memes spread and mutate particular ideas and information, so false and harmful ideas mustn't be replicated across the social media platforms in order not to influence and hammer younger kids with absurdity.
Radcliffe, G. (2017, September 4). Memes throughout History: Where Did It Begin?Retrieved from post launch: https://postlaunch.co/blog/memes-throughout-history-where-did-it-begin/