IT’S ALL ABOUT meme FINDS OUT WHAT ALL THE BUZZ ABOUT INTERNET MEMES IS, JUST WHAT THEY ARE AND WHY THE ONLINE WORLD CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THEM
AS anyone who knows their stuff online these days would tell you, “one does not simply create a meme”. And when that message is expressed via a popular featuring Lord of the Rings character Boromir ( pictured), the divide between those “in the know” with social media and those who are not becomes all the more obvious.
For the uninitiated, “one does not simply get it” if they’ve never heard of internet memes, but simply put, they’re a visual medium used to share ideas and relate to situations in a humorous way. And there’s a meme for every occasion. Been embarrassed in a social situation? You’ll appreciate “Socially Awkward Penguin” ( pictured far right). Get a kick out of a victory, no matter how minor? “Success Kid” ( pictured far right) is your meme. Or perhaps you’ve become overly upset about a lost remote, at battery or not having the latest mobile phone? First World Problems ( pictured far right) are sure to bring you back down to Earth.
Memes also provide social commentary via familiar situations. Take, for example, the recent Boston bombings. Social media users rapidly employed memes during this event to express their shock, dismay and commentary.
“( Memes) are a very powerful, and persuasive, tool. They give power to a single person to greatly amplify their own ‘ wordof- mouth’,” says James Cook University IT academic Dr Jason Holdsworth, who lectures on subjects in computer programming and mobile technology and researches mobile- learning and e- learning.
He says checking out and generating memes “are not so much popular, but ubiquitous”.
“Just look at Facebook – from what I can see, the average Facebook user ends up “liking” hundreds of memes a month.
“Each time someone likes a meme it instantly shows up in all of their friends’ Facebook feeds. This is an incredibly fast way for internet memes to travel.”
Social media user and animator Curtis Smith names First World Problems as his favourite meme to “participate with or recreate”.
“The best meme to me is the one that integrates so easily into whatever you’re doing,” he says.
“And who hasn’t felt psychologically torn between options such as eating and getting out of a comfortable seat? Agony.
“I don’t create memes. It would be wrong to say memes create themselves, but the manner in which they spread is pretty viral, hence the origin of the term ‘ viral meme’.”
The concept of a meme was rst published in biologist Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book, The Sel sh Gene, where he describes it as the theory of a “unit of cultural transmission behaving in a similar fashion to DNA, which is replicating genetic information”.
The theory of the evolution of ideas had been brewing with philosophers and the like for years previous, but it is his work often attributed to memes.
“Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.
“They compete with one another for limited resources: brain time or bandwidth. They compete most of all for attention,” he wrote.
It may have been long before the internet, but his “meme theory” perfectly summarises the life of memes in the online world today, where information can behave like human genes and ideas can replicate, mutate and evolve.
Today, an internet meme is de ned in the Oxford Dictionary as: “an image, video, piece of text, etc, typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by internet users, often with slight variations”.
Before the 1990s, when the internet and email were rst widely used, the meme theory could be applied to popular jingles and slogans ( eg how Vegemite “puts a rose in every cheek” and the drink of choice was “Always Coca Cola”), and phrases from popular TV shows and lms ( eg Homer’s “D’oh” in The Simpsons and Arnie’s “I’ll be back” in The Terminator).
However, these early memes were oneway messages from advertising agencies and lm studios to consumers, while today’s social media memes are often usergenerated and shared between sites such as Reddit, 4chan, quickmeme, Facebook and Tumblr.
Today, any average Joe on a computer