Memes are popular and increasingly significant. But why?

Will Romano
The Startup
Published in
4 min readNov 17, 2019

Memes now have vast societal and political implications (Photo-

Memes have grown to a point in popularity where we have to ask the question: why?

Memes control internet culture, as popular meme pages on social media now draw tens of millions of followers. People around the world are reliant on that daily release of dopamine in their brains through a laugh at their favorite meme page, as if memes are the coffee of 2019. But memes are much more than just a simple element of humor regarding day-to-day affairs: they are a basis for political expression, societal angst, and brand advertising.

What could bring society to rely on a simple visual display to satisfy so many “important” elements of discussion? The answer lies in decreased focus times as well as an increasingly offense-ridden world.

Our use of social media as a society has skyrocketed this past year, with over 3.5 billion people on at least one social media platform as of 2019. And so has our consumption of memes. According to a Google study in 2016, the keyword meme is searched more than the term Jesus Christ.

From personal experience, every person I am friendly with and know on social media follows at least one meme page, while people like myself follow over 150. Whether it be more scaled back, shallow-humor memes for a middle-aged demographic on Facebook, or more offensive and edgy memes on Instagram for teenagers, or even the most graphic and largely offensive memes on (a platform notorious for illegal and seemingly “anonymous” behavior) for the true meme-obsessed, there is a meme for everyone.

Facebook “mom” memes are the laughing stock of the meme community (Photo-

So what causes this widespread devotion to visual candy? According to the Telegraph, the average human attention span has recently dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, docking us below that of a goldfish. People are much less likely to read articles, watch movies, or even read newspaper columns when it comes to their consumption of media. Doing such activities in order to understand political stances or any type of information would surely be interrupted by multiple Instagram or Twitter sessions. Reading even a paragraph or watching a video requires the devotion…

Will Romano
The Startup

Student-writer focused on economics, international relations and soccer. Currently studying abroad in Utrecht, Netherlands |