Meme and You Part I


And for today’s topic, I have something really, really special planned. I’ll give you a hint:That’s right, me duckies, today I’m going to rant talk about memes!

And what better place to start then before the beginning? By this I mean that we shall hearken back to the days when the memes existed but not the internet.

What’s in a Meme?

The phrase was coined by British scientist Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene.

Another British scientist

He used the term to explain evolution and natural selection and all that kinds of potentially heretical stuff.

Eh, close enough

The term encompassed all sorts of cultural paraphernalia such as clothing, building architecture, building techniques, melodies, and practically anything else that could be transferred from one person to another by communication.

By using memes to explain evolution, Dr. Dawkins gave rise to the theory that culture, in the form of memes, goes through an evolution of its own the strong surviving, spreading, and prospering while the weak die.Fast forward some twenty odd years and the word gains partially new meaning.

In effect, you take the old term and just slap internet in front of it. See? It’s that easy.

At its most basic, the internet meme is any cultural phenomena spread across the internet. Sounds simple, yes? Well, that’s because it is. But it’s only the beginning. Internet Memes differ from the traditional meme in many respects.

For starters, being online they utilize only two of the five senses: sight and hearing. True, the other sort are generally seen or heard as well, but they invoke the other senses at will. The feel of a cut of cloth, the taste of ice cream, the smell of a skunk- all of these can be experienced in “real life” but not on a computer- at least not yet.

Furthermore, the speed at which Internet Memes propagate is exponentially greater than that of Meme Classic. Traditional methods tend to be slow and finicky. A letter takes days to reach the recipient, telephone’s require the called to be present (though you can leave a message… or forty-three), and word of mouth requires you to be in their very presence. And don’t even get me started on messenger pigeons! In contrast, the internet is instantaneous, moving at the speed of your connection, and allows you to leave messages that can be, and are expected to be, returned or modified, depending on whether its an email to a friend or a post in a crowded message board.

Next we have the accessibility- everyone can take a part. Before hand, trying to create or change established culture was rather difficult. Sure, it was done, countless times, but most of them were celebrities or powerful.

Or perhaps both...

Aristolol’s Categories

Thanks to the marvel that is the internet, any idiot can become integral in cultivating our budding culture!

And often do- someone says something unwise, makes a stupid video, or does something so mind boggling stupid that you despair for the human race, and you’ve got yourself an inadvertent celebrity.

You’re words of “wisdom” will be posted again and again, your very name a synonym for stupidity regardless of how much you protest until, finally, the joke gets old.

This can happen to celebrities, too, and overlaps with real world memes. Everyone knows of Cheney’s prowess with a rifle, Paris Hilton is renowned as a simpering wossname, and do I even need to mention Brittany Spears?

Regardless of how true this stereotyping is, it will persist until it gets old.

The other sort of inadvertent celebrity is one who embarrasses himself in an amusing way. Unfortunately, he does this while a “friend” or “family member” has a camera and inevitably posts the mortifying film online for the amusement of the faceless horde.

Of course, I’m loathe to laugh at these videos. Not because I’m an honorable paladin, standing for justice, light, goodness, and general decency but because whenever you suffer from the level of oddness I do, I’ve got some pretty big skeletons in my closet, almost exactly like these (sometimes I have to watch the video again to ensure its not me and that I don’t have to break off all ties to civilization).

Another rich source of memes is pop culture.

If you deigned to watch the video I so kindly posted, you should get the picture. Something makes its way onto the internet and becomes wildly popular for whatever reason (in this case for incredible amounts of camp, shirtless man, and muy macho violence). Then liberal amounts of fan art and tributes are created as seen here, compiled and set to a techno remix. Certain phrases from the original may be spouted everywhere and soon you can’t move for posts explaining how this is, in fact, Sparta and it is clearly not madness.

Of course, these pale in comparison to the most popular and widespread internet meme: video/photo/sound editing. This can range from simple captions all the way to a complex and interconnected video that would make the finest of hoaxsters smash their video recording equipment in envy.

And we waste it all on CATS

How I Use Meme?

Memes serve many a purpose in the web of today.

Of course, first and foremost they’re for entertainment. Regardless of what their primary purpose is, memes are always intended for entertainment. It’s sorta what the internet does: it entertains us.

Except for trashcat. For he is not amused

Aside from this, they have a legion of uses.

One of the more popular uses is for communication. A meme can be added to emphasize your point or even replace typed communication.

For example, say you desire whatever it is that the original poster on a thread (i.e. the guy who starts a conversation on a forum) is offering, let’s make it images of potato pancakes with pickle chutney, for the sake of example.

But, instead, he only posts pictures of pan seared pork with garlic sauce. Oh horror of horrors!

So, realizing his mistake, he posts the requested images of potato pancakes- but without the chutney.

In that way, you can make your intentions known completely through images of cats with captions!

A third use is as political or social commentary. One of the most stunning uses of this is when the meme nyoron was used by South Koreans to criticize the indecisiveness of the Taliban after kidnapping 23 Korean Christians in the July of 2007.

Nyoron, in all its smoked cheese related glory

It was called Tsundeban, and mockingly held that the Taliban were actually nice people.

I don't quite know what's going on, but it's funny. Or sad. Very sad.

The hostages were returned in August so the meme may have had some impact. Or probably not. But you gotta admit that it’s pretty neat.

And that’s it for part one! Prepare yourselves for part two! And if you don’t… well,

Published in: on December 6, 2009 at 11:36 am  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: