“Memes and social media go hand in hand.” Some people might say that memes are a product of the internet, but they indeed exist elsewhere. Much like language, memes evolve. Memes themselves help define social groups and can even make their sub-factions within a society.
Where do all these memes come from?
In modern times, it isn’t easy to imagine life without the existence of social media. It’s hard not to have heard about something going viral on Facebook or retweeting someone else who has just done so on Twitter lately. Take a leaf out of XKCD, for example: “2 people were reading this webcomic in 1985”. Without a doubt, the internet has expanded and changed the world into a global village. Just as significantly, social media has flourished and played a big role in this process.
Social media offers an open platform to share almost anything with anyone, but it’s good to keep in mind that people aren’t always what they seem online: “You can go pretty far on Instagram by looking cute.” While this may sound cynical or harsh to some, it does ring true for those who’ve been victims of cyber-bullying from anonymous stalkers on Facebook.
Social media and memes
The fact remains that social media is growing fast, regardless of all the naysayers out there. In 2005 only 8% of Americans claimed social networks were their primary source of news; however, by 2013, 41% claimed it was their primary source of news.
One such social media platform is Reddit, which allows its users to upload and share content with other members in the form of links, self-posts (text only), or comments. This site has been described as “a cross between a message board…and a blog”. It’s also ranked among the top 100 most visited websites globally and gets over 4 billion page views per month. There are numerous subsections on Reddit dedicated to almost anything you can think of: politics quotes about love, bipolar disorder, bad jokes, even cats! “[Social media is] part of our daily experience” -with this fact in mind, memes and social media go hand in hand.
In a way, memes are a product of the internet and society’s need to share common interests and experiences as per Meme Scout. Memes can be used for personal or social reasons, but they can also cause controversy over sensitive issues. It makes sense that memes, being byproducts of popular culture, would become associated with social media platforms like Reddit.
“[Memes] matter when they act as an extension of people’s identities” -and perhaps it goes deeper than identity when you consider how certain groups define themselves against others through the use of these jokes/images which “act as signifiers to legitimize in-group membership.”
Make relatable memes
It’s pretty clear that meme creators put in a lot of effort to make them funny or ‘relatable’ enough to be shared online. This means that the creator has succeeded in making the image/joke meaningful/recognizable enough for users to pass on. It’s also interesting how much thought people put into their memes -for example, adding “textual comments” or tagging specific subreddits related to the post; it can even lead to internet fame!
Although many memes are now seen as meaningless jokes, they’re still necessary for identity formation and social cohesion. The ubiquity of social media has made a big impact on our world and society by allowing people from all over the globe to mingle and communicate through memes and more traditional.