The world of Memes
What are memes? Where did they come from? And what do they represent? This blog will focus on the world of memes, and how the convergence of media has shaped the fabric of our world, and how today’s creationist industries and politics and how we, as a creative audience have understood it.
A distinct interpretation of convergent media as an audience can be understood by the word meme… Memes can be categorised into three distinct genres which best describe memetic transformation: spreadable media, emergent meme, and meme. Memes can be seen as messages which are remixed, and are spread on the internet like wildfire through members of such participatory digital culture. Or, in other words, it is ‘’an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture’’ (Dawkins, 1976). But, to express this idea in a more updated term, ‘’an Internet meme is a piece of culture, typically a joke, which gains influence through online transmission’’ (Davison, 2012).
Memes are usually argued to have developed from emergent memes, which are furthered defined as remixed, or spreadable media. Memes can be further understood in depth through Anthony Giddens’ structuration theory, in order to truly understand the development of such Internet communication which has been achieved in participatory digital culture. Memes can be argued to have existed as early as the 1990’s, and have been argued to ‘’replicate at rates that make even fruit flies and yeast cells look glacial in comparison’’ (Dennett, 1993).
The world of memes should be very well looked at through a communication-oriented perspective. The term meme has been very widely familiarised itself in many aspects of the social and cultural worlds, such as philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, and psychology (Shifman, 2013). But it was not until the rapid spread of mass communication in participatory culture, researchers had finally started to learn and familiarise themselves with the theoretical research of memes.
In this era, which is solely marked by a total convergence of media platforms (Jenkins, 2006), memes can now be seen as a higher relevance than they ever were before to mass media and communications research. They can be viewed as a type of communication where words and cultures know no boundaries, and through the help of spreadable mass media, it is a category of communication on its own. Memetic language on the Internet can be seen as a whole factor of communications, where text has been replaced by image, and language knows no barriers. One can argue that it is a form of communication where people of all cultures and backgrounds can freely engage in without the sentiment of not being understood, and is a translation in its own enigmatic way.
Nowadays, the trend of memes on social media websites such as Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram have a more humorist approach toward them, where worldwide or everyday matters are subjected in a humorist limelight. Thus it adds to the whole ‘communication’ aspect, and further encourages audiences of all backgrounds to engage without any cultural or linguistic barriers.
- Dawkins, R. (1976) The Selfish Gene. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
- Davison, P. (2012) The Language of Internet Memes. NYU Press.
- Dennett, D.C. (1993) Consciousness Explained. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & co.
- Shifman, L. (2013) Memes in a Digital World: Reconciling with a Conceptual Troublemaker. International Communication Association.