Memes are... everywhere. But what are they, exactly? And what are some of the key memes we need to know about so we don't embarrass ourselves when next surrounded by a gaggle of millennials? Here's everything you need to know about memes.
Memes are everywhere these days.
“But wait,” you yell at your screen “what exactly are memes?” Well, normie, a meme is basically a funny picture or video given a new context, usually around a (relatable AF) truth, which travel in a viral way through the culture of the Internet.
What do you meme?
The term “meme” was first coined by Richard Dawkins in 1976 as a way of describing how ideas travel through groups of people.
Just like a gene, a meme is subject to natural selection. Like a virus, a meme moves from host to host, mutating along the way.
Early memes relied heavily on the image macro format: basically just bold text superimposed over an image, developed on early modern internet forums. Sometimes heavily featuring cats, which while we’re on it, can live harmoniously with your phone.
Memes broke through into the real world with planking and the Harlem Shake, and more recently the mannequin challenge. These participatory video memes invite imitation and are spread online in the same way as image-based memes.
2016: the year of the meme?
A bumper crop of memes last year saw some new classics added to the Pantheon of Internet-silliness. Stand-outs include Arthur’s Fist, Evil Kermit, and literally anything involving SpongeBob Squarepants.
Memes have recently become pretty political. Meme-culture went into overdrive during the US presidential election and the last days of the Obama presidency (who can forget those classic Obama-Biden memes?).
Where can I find memes?
The best places to find memes are on the forums or discussion pages where memes are made and shared prior to ending up on your social media feed. r/MemeEconomy, imgur and knowyourmeme.com are great places to find memes before you get tagged in them by that one friend everyone has who communicates exclusively through tagging you in memes.
If you’ve been inspired to try your hand at making your own bespoke artisanal memes, well then, good for you! If you can’t be bothered to mess around with Powerpoint and screenshots, then apps like Mematic and Meme Generator or online tools like memecreator and memegenerator.net will keep you meme-ing ’til the break of day.
Have we reached peak meme?
Undoubtedly memes have become one of the go-to methods of transmitting simple ideas and emotional truths in recent times. But has society gone too far with memes? The answer: a resounding no.
If you agree, be sure to follow Three’s Instagram for more memeishness.