Meme, a term that I didn’t know before this week, yet I see them everyday and they have been around longer then I have been alive. Today we commonly associate the term meme with images or GIFs that are expressing an “inside joke” or poking fun at someone or something. Sparks. Memes fill my various news feeds but there are frequently just as many that confuse me as there are that I understand. This is because often to have a good understanding of the meme you need to know where the image or saying originated to understand why putting the two together it is ironic. However memes have not always took this form and were around long before the Internet.
Memes are ideas, beliefs, and behaviours that make up our culture. They are passed on through families such as family traditions or belief practices, or they are influenced and developed through peers and media. Urban Dictionary. Memes are how our culture is formed and passed on. A meme is developed and taught to people as the meme is passed on the message may be interpreted differently or passed on in a new way, this is how our culture adapts and changes over time. Think of it like the game telephone, as the phrase is passed on it gets interpreted differently and changed before it gets to the end of the circle, often having nothing to do with the original statement. Newitz.
Kendzior makes the statement that memes create an illusion of participate in politics. I think what she means by this is that the average person does not follow political issues enough to understand them and make educated comments however they can produce and share political memes with a minimum understanding of the issue. For example the upcoming provincial election has lots of buzz going on about different issues. I recognize that Tim Hudak plans to create one million jobs, however I think that this plan sounds unrealistic. Therefore I agree with this meme, however I have not read Hudak’s plan and when I did try and look into what his plan entails it was over my head with wordy explanations that I didn’t understand. Therefore I do agree with Kendzior’s statement that the government is run incomprehensible to a normal person. Memes give us the chance to poke fun at politians or political issues that we otherwise would not be able to comment on. As well it is an outlet for us to take out our frustration on issues because as individuals often we are not heard by the government. When producing political memes we are not actively participating in making a difference in the political issue therefore we are really only publishing our opinion, participating yes, but not in a political sense.
Memes are found in all different streams of social media and are becoming more and more prevalent. With memes continuing to grow it is important to understand how it affects and reflects our society and culture. A meme starts as an idea that continues to grow and change as it is passed on and on and spread throughout society. Gleick. This results in these new ideas spreading much faster globally than ever before. This also means that there are so many different ideas being considered not as many stay prominent for very long without any changes. Memes make small changes to our culture or our society’s view on something everyday however Internet memes have also made large changes to our culture. The introduction of the emoticon in 1982 for example is a meme that is still around today. This changed the tone of conversations on the Internet and allowed informal conversation and jokes to occur without misinterpretation (Davison 124). Most importantly memes are an important part of our culture as they add to our growing participatory society. Memes give us the opportunity to participate on different levels and on multiple medias. As I now have a better understanding of memes and how they influence our habits and behaviours I am curious as to which popular meme today will be gone tomorrow (Harlem Shake) or here for years to come (emoticons).