What’s in a Meme?

Any netizen who religiously checks and updates his or her status on Facebook and Twitter, or posts photos on Instagram has surely come upon images with catchy, and even farcical statements that may tickle his or her funny bone. These pictures, videos or even hyperlinks that spread throughout the social media turn viral and have become the turning point for the internet as a medium that sparks change in society and culture. These forms that trigger both laughter and annoyance are called MEMES. Coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, a meme is a means to explain how cultural information is propagated. And in the advent of the information superhighway, internet has proven to be a significant vessel in spreading the so-called cultural information, and with its environment, users have begun to explore its limitless possibilities—from product promotion to black propaganda—employing images of people and animals combined with captions that elicit reactions from people. Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram have been flooded with internet memes created by different groups that thrust towards a particular purpose, or solely, just want to make the internet users happy.

How Memes are Made
Internet memes have totally deviated from Richard Dawkins concept of the term. Web culture has somehow find Dawkins’ term “overarching” and thus, being a de facto means of impersonal communication, memes have surged its way into the social media, characterized by “brevity, familiarity, and a heavy lean towards visual delivery”, according to http://www.userinterfaced.com. Perhaps one of the most popular meme is the “troll face”, or a “rage face” which connotes that someone is intentionally angered or being fooled. The first drawing of troll face was made in a form of rage comics, a four-panel illustration that presents a story with the last panel almost universally being a simple expression or reaction to the outcome of the preceding story. Another type of meme is the image macros, a single type combination of text and picture which conveys a a certain caricature that invokes humor through its punch line placed at the second line of a text. Noticeably, memes use repeated images, which according to ww.userinterfaced.com, “gives memes their own in-built context, one that is processed on an almost sub-conscious level, and is capable of transcending language barriers.” What gives rise to the popularity of these memes is the fact that it is conducive to sharing. Sites such as 4chan, Reddit, and 9gag have become platforms where meme buffs can unleash their creativity and post their works through social media.

The Meme Monikers and the Advice Animals
How well do you know your memes? One of the characteristics of a meme is the use of repeated images or symbols. These images, too, have names. Let us take a little closer at enumerating these memes so that whenever someone has posted one in your FB wall, you can easily recognized what the meme is all about.

1. Advice Dog. It is comprised of an image of a dog with the color wheel as its background. Considered as a basic meme, it features absurd and oftentimes exaggerated advices.

2. Success Kid. With a blue color wheel background, the Success Kid meme features a triumphant little boy with caption describing any type of success.

3. Socially Awkward Penguin. As the meme suggests, the image of a penguin connotes lack of social skills and self-esteem. The caption brings about embarrassing situations or certain reaction when placed in a particular social situation.

4. Confession Bear. One of the most popular advice animals, the confession bear illustrates a Malaysian sun bear resting on a log with a frowning expression. Devoid of a color wheel background, this meme contains caption which are sometimes shameful and taboo.

  Memes may not be considered as high art, or some critics may liken it to idle chatting because it contains less meat, thus providing meaningless and senseless ideas.  But in a culture where one is bombarded with tons of information, there must be some kind of a leeway through which netizens can somehow read light and digestible content.  And in a culture where reading even a single paragraph can be a taxing task, memes can be a simple means where we can tell stories and even express our ideas.

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