So you are probably thinking: really Kristin? You are going to write a whole blog post about memes? You don’t have anything better to do? It’s not that important. In fact, you are possibly contemplating exiting out of this window to go look at memes (and maybe update yourself on the latest Kanye rant?), instead of reading a lighthearted spiel about the significance of Internet memes. But, hopefully you will stick around to hear why our continuous participation with memes may not be a complete waste of time.
With the Internet and advanced methods of communication, we create new ways to connect and engage with one another. There are always new technologies being developed to help us share valuable information and to make our presence known on the Internet. But what happens when the regular user of “the Interwebs” uses their freedom of speech and anonymity to discuss situations that regularly occur in their daily lives? As a result of our free and constant communication, we have found creative ways of expressing ourselves with online texts, more widely known as “memes.” Fun fact: the term “meme” was first coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene.
Today, a meme can be virtually anything: a picture, slogan, tweet or video. The significance of a meme is that it is a common idea or experience, simplified into an easily digestible, shareable piece of media. Due to their growing popularity, memes have become the pinnacle of Internet culture and have become a tool used by those who are (and are not) familiar with the ins and outs of Internet discourse. People from different backgrounds are able to come together and use memes to share their experiences, like going through a breakup or a difficult day at work, and also use memes to react and have conversations about bigger social, political, and cultural issues – and of course, popular culture. Memes and the Internet have given a voice and an audience to those who wouldn’t have had the opportunity in previous years.
Memes have also been known to encompass a unique sense of humour, which is their most attractive quality with online users. The use of humour can help spread news and stories to reach more people, such as the recent tensions with the U.S. presidential election. Only a couple of weeks ago, 6ix God himself, Drake, released his new album, Views, to mass hysteria – many fans and users remixed Drake’s now iconic album cover by photoshopping the sitting Drake from the CN Tower onto different famous memes. The international reaction to these Drake memes, I would argue, contributed to the increased hype and record-breaking sales of Views. Memes have also made regular people into Internet superstars because they have become the face of a recognizable meme online, see Kyle Craven (“Bad Luck Brian”) and Laina Morris (“Overly Attached Girlfriend”). More recently, teen actress Skai Jackson (“Petty Skai Jackson”), has become arguably more famous in a meme than her acting career, the meme featuring Skai sitting on a couch with a fairly unamused demeanor, which is easily attributed to a variety of relatable situations.
As for myself, I am a huge fan of memes (obviously!). I tend to absorb myself with memes when I am commuting home from school or work and I have found it is a good stress reliever after a long day. Since the humour in memes is usually about everyday-life experiences, I am usually able to relate to the jokes on a personal level. I also gain a sense of comfort that there are other people in the world who are going through the same experiences as me, and in a weird way, it feels like I am not alone in my situation – I know I’m getting totally sappy here, but it’s true! More surprisingly, memes and online humour have helped me transition into my new job on the Orientation team for 2016. Many of my team members also enjoy memes and we have constantly found ourselves sharing our favourite jokes with one another throughout the day. Memes were a big icebreaker for us when we first started our jobs because it was a way we could all relate to each other. We were able to create positive relationships right from the beginning and it has become a good pick-me-up for when we need a break from our tasks. On a personal level, I like to analyze what my team members do and do not think is funny because it helps me to understand them on a more individual level. It’s important to have healthy work environments and I think memes can help us create that type of workspace.
Memes have become the heart of the Internet and are a simple way for strangers to communicate their experiences and feelings to mass audiences. As you all get to know me this summer with my next few blog posts and my work with O-Team, don’t be surprised when you hear me reference a few memes.