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When Do Memes Stop Being Funny?

Last posted Mar 14, 2014 at 05:54AM EDT. Added Mar 12, 2014 at 07:49PM EDT
34 posts from 27 users

It’s not really possible to get discussion going in the comment section of the video, so I’m making this thread to discuss Mike’s recent video about internet memes. What are your thoughts?

Mar 12, 2014 at 07:49PM EDT
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The internet still contains a sort of hivemind structure. Communities, websites, fandoms, groups, chatrooms, no matter how big or small, tend to share a similar sort of thought pattern. This is normal, because people prefer to spend time with things that appeal to them. Ye’ old cirle jerking.

That said, we’re going back to the hivemind. Memes are the jokes and images that appeal to the masses. They are aimed to entertain people and often succeed at doing so in the beginning. We all enjoyed our new memes at times. And although not everyone will find them funny the first time, they probably will like them eventually due to the power of the hivemind. People like things, other members of the same group see said people like the thing, so they discover a sort of hidden appeal into it that makes them enjoy it as well. Because it’s nice to enjoy stuff together, simple enough.

Overexposure however may turn people to eventually dislike something, because constant repitition leads to stagnation. Can’t blame the internet that much there, but through the hivemind you now get a hatetrain.

Whereas at first it was the cool norm to like the meme, the norm switched so that it’s now cool to hate the meme. During this, people who publicly make fun of a meme for negative reasons get positive reviews and attention, which in turn appeals to others to also start hating the meme. Because we all like our 10 seconds of internet fame. Sure there are people who hate the meme and wish for its death, but there are also plenty who simply enjoy making fun of the meme.

At times then, this is the start of ultimate irony. People now make fun of people who make fun of an already dead meme. Whereas at first the meme itself was overexposed which lead to hate, now the hating of the meme is overexposed and becomes the new target. People simply move sides constantly.

But at the core, the reasons aren’t so different. To explain this, we’ll give the definition of an internet meme, which isn’t so difficult:

“An idea, style or action which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the Internet.”

With the current active web, as Mike explained in the video, being overexposed to a meme is only natural. New content is being created and spread at such a rapid rate, that it becomes nearly impossible to avoid it. The meme is spread from person to person over the internet. The natural creation and growth of a meme as we all experienced over time. And eventually, this meme will die down, just like the rest.

But with hating an overused meme, that’s just the same. Now it’s the hating of the meme that is spread from person to person over the internet.

To run with an example: The Doge became a meme because it was spread from person to person over the internet. But in that same logic, Doge Shaming (to just randomly come up with a term) is now being spread from person to person over the internet. The people who disliked Doge in return succeeded in spreading the idea that Doge is something that should be hated.

So by the definition of an internet meme in the part of “an idea which spreads from person to person via the Internet”, the haters basically created a meme to counter a meme.

To run with an example of this, all the intentionally bad reaction faces based on the Trollface. By making fun of a meme, those faces became a meme by themselves, and fell victim to the same consequences.

It’s an endless cycle, filled with irony.

So to conclude with Mike’s vid: Mike said in the beginning of the video that he would try to explain why people hate internet memes, but he basically just described the cycle of hating memes through hate-memes. Memes are part of the internet, as is hating, and both have simply merged into one entity.

Last edited Mar 12, 2014 at 08:21PM EDT
Mar 12, 2014 at 07:53PM EDT
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Honestly, I hate internet memes as a concept.

Mar 12, 2014 at 08:14PM EDT
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Cale wrote:

Honestly, I hate internet memes as a concept.

>Hating memes
>KYM

Last edited Mar 12, 2014 at 08:28PM EDT
Mar 12, 2014 at 08:27PM EDT

A meme stops being funny as soon as a KYM article is made for it.

Mar 12, 2014 at 08:27PM EDT
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It’s simple. When this happens.

Mar 12, 2014 at 08:37PM EDT

I don’t really hate memes because of over exposure. If I don’t like it, its due to other reasons (usually due to it being deliberately malicious, disgusting or promoting something else that I dislike that is inherit in the meme, unrelated to its popularity).However if all you see are uncreative versions of the same thing from a meme, after a while, you sorta start expecting that meme to produce more of the same, uncreative variants. For me I just move on and don’t waste my time with those. That having been said, I’m fine with creative versions of older memes, even after they have been ran into the ground. Of course, the more ran into the ground it has been, the more creative it has to be for me to really like it.

Mar 12, 2014 at 09:19PM EDT
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Once a meme hits the media it stop’s being funny. At that point the original concept is thrown out the window. Even worse when companies begin to commercialize it.

Mar 12, 2014 at 09:25PM EDT
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Snowie wrote:

It’s simple. When this happens.

Sometimes though, even memes that are always used can stay funny indefinitely though. OP is a faggot, le Sienfeld guy face, shrek is love, etc. etc.
Others, like Doge, just don’t last for me.

Mar 12, 2014 at 09:29PM EDT
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I just came here for the forums.
But seriously, memes aren’t necessarily funny. See that creepypasta? It isn’t funny. It’s sends chills down your spine. That photo fad? It’s from someone taking a photo some way i don’t care about then everyone else started mimicking it. You hate that meme? Deal with it.

Mar 12, 2014 at 09:38PM EDT
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Dac wrote:

Sometimes though, even memes that are always used can stay funny indefinitely though. OP is a faggot, le Sienfeld guy face, shrek is love, etc. etc.
Others, like Doge, just don’t last for me.

Point taken. I still find Expand Dong hilarious… Most of the time.

Mar 12, 2014 at 09:41PM EDT

I find that a meme is a joke that is generated by a community. Once a meme becomes popular in another community, it loses its value to the host community. Rage comics were poplar on 4chan because it was a fun activity that the community engaged in.

Once rage comics caught the attention of the rest of the internet, people outside of 4chan did not understand the parameters of the meme and were quickly abused in unfunny skits with no punch lines and “le” spammed before every noun and verb.

It quickly lost its appeal and was shunned by 4chan users and is now frowned upon by a growing number of communities on the internet.

From my experience, I would say there are 3 categories for memes.

Concept: The idea is not tied to a specific image/video but has certain contextual parameters. These memes are limited to certain communities and rarely go viral. These memes slowly die as the host community changes or it is abused and is no longer seen as funny by the host. If a contextual meme somehow goes viral, like rage comics, they die mainly due to abuse because people outside of the host community hardly know how to use them correctly and become annoying because they are hardly as good as the original material.

Macro: The whole idea is driven by the image and its context. Or, a specific image is a background or centerpiece that enhances the text. These memes start off funny or had a coherent meaning in their host community but slowly die off as they get overused or abused whether they go viral or not.

Forced (not a stupid joke someone made up and tried to make it a meme by making an entry here): There is no real host community that initializes it; these memes immediately go viral. They do not have a host community to act as a catalyst and quickly die off to overuse.

Ultimately what normally kills the popularity of a meme is overuse as a large group or small group of people use them in the attempt to be funny or try to convey their message using a meme with the wrong context. Everybody wants to be a comedian or creative, but not everyone is funny or creative.

I would not say that the concept of hatting a meme is a meme itself because it is an mechanism that is inherent to everyone to hate the overused and to move. It is not an idea that is passed on, it is a psychological mechanism built into everyone. This mechanism prevents social clutter so we can progress at the individual level and as a society.

I will however go on the record to say that there are memes that rarely go through this period of hate because they are very specific; ISHYGDDT, green texting, Tony Kornheiser images and its spinoffs. Contextual memes as far as I am aware are more likely to stand the test of time because they are not easy to abuse; they require certain circumstances to work, and they are not as repetitious as macro or forced counterparts.

Last edited Mar 12, 2014 at 10:23PM EDT
Mar 12, 2014 at 09:55PM EDT
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Snowie wrote:

Point taken. I still find Expand Dong hilarious… Most of the time.

Expand dong is pretty damn funny. You know, the ones I mentioned and expand dong do have something in common, they can’t really be exploited by the media or most social media.

Mar 12, 2014 at 09:55PM EDT
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When people use it in ways it wasn’t originally intended for. When it’s seen as a ticket to popularity rather than something genuinely funny. When it becomes too repetitive in nature with little originality or effort (Harlem Shake anyone?). When people don’t understand what makes it funny and end up misusing the meme because of this.

Really though, I think it can all be summarized with how much thought a poster puts into it. Lots of people don’t mind seeing old memes if they’re used in a clever or funny way. When it becomes apparent the meme requires little to no effort or originality, they become overused quickly and hated.

Mar 12, 2014 at 09:58PM EDT
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Cale wrote:

Honestly, I hate internet memes as a concept.

I’m pretty sure you don’t even know what an “internet meme” really is. It’s anything with relative popularity on the internet and spreads around and changes and stuff. You hate anything that’s popular on the internet?

That’s another big issue. People misunderstanding what a meme is. For example, most of the people I know IRL think that any picture with bold, black and white advice animal text is a meme, and it makes me want to punch them in the face. Please learn what a meme is before staying stupid crap. Like Kebabs said, memes aren’t always made to be funny. Controversies and creepypastas count as memes sometimes as well. Some memes may be forced, but most of the good ones evolve naturally like it states in the videos. The best jokes are created on the spot and grow naturally instead of being scripted, planned out, and just overall forced.

Mar 12, 2014 at 10:54PM EDT
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It is fairly well established that every meme comes with a half-life of popularity. Whatever scale that popularity is.

The half-life of a meme depends on a lot of factors. How far it spreads, how many people learn about it, how many people enjoy it, the possibilities it offers to work with, how mutate-able it is, how easily it can cross into other memes, how annoying it is etc etc…the list goes on.

But at the core of it, I like to think it comes down to overexposure. The moment something begins to warrant an amount of attention and fame that is disproportional to how important it actually is to people; society will begin to attack it. I tried to illustrate that here once but looking back, that diagram is badly annotated. Here’s a revised version:

So in other words, the meme stops being funny right after that first bell curve; about the point where everyone’s heard about the joke already and it is old news. Plus people have exhausted pretty much everything they can do with it so there’s nothing new coming out it. That means that using it again is only an indicator that you are behind the times and that only annoys people who are done with seeing it, resulting in a backlash of hate against the meme in question

Last edited Mar 13, 2014 at 12:24AM EDT
Mar 13, 2014 at 12:24AM EDT
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Given the blank stares and disinterest that I’ve encountered trying to reference and revive old memes from the ‘90s, I’ll add that old memes often aren’t funny even when you show them to a fresh audience that wasn’t around to get aggravated by their overuse. There seems to be a time when the culture is receptive to an idea spreading, and this opportunity closes.

Mar 13, 2014 at 12:26AM EDT
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[Less Serious Explanation]
It’s not about when memes stop being funny, but about understanding that memes don’t have to be funny. Appealing to people’s sense of humor is just one memetic advantage of many that allows the idea to survive and proliferate further than others, but really, the meme couldn’t care less if you like it or not. Any strong emotions triggered by it will work just as well as humour. It doesn’t care if you laugh at it or gnash your teeth at it, you’ll remember it all the same. So go to your “fanatical domains.” Teach your friends to love or hate the memes just as you do. Offer your neurons in sacrifice to your new idols; expend precious cycles in your unwitting worship of the most hated cancer. Contribute to the final computation of the one true god!

[More Serious Explanation]
But seriously though, it’s not necessary for a meme to be funny for it to be “successful”. What happens to a once popularly funny meme after it’s “no longer funny” could be seen as more important. The “strongest” memes (and the ones that usually end up being my favorites) are the ones that survive becoming “unfunny” to be quietly integrated into Internet culture, to the point of being intrinsic to it (e.g.: the afore-posted costanza.jpg). All that slang and jargon that just feels like second nature here? It has to start somewhere. It’s just like he says in the video; once a meme is “over” it becomes “normal”. Integration and normalization is the hallmark of a truly successful meme. Persistence is more important than spread or mass-humourous appeal, or else it’s just a trend or joke fad that ends as quickly as it begins.

Mar 13, 2014 at 12:37AM EDT
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Memes instantly become unfunny because of the growth of Internet culture.

Mar 13, 2014 at 02:16AM EDT

I blame Obama.
Puts a quarter in the blame Obama jar.
On a serious note, they never stop being funny. You just get sick of them after a while, and/or people don’t use them right.

Mar 13, 2014 at 07:15AM EDT
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I think I have said this quite a few times before, but the internet going mainstream is slowly killing the concept of memes though their increased speed in their natural lifecycle.

A legitimate meme will go though Birth, Growth, Mutation, and eventually Death, spending however much time in each of those categories. The sheer number of people on the internet allows for the Growth and Mutation part to happen super-quick. Eventually, because of the mutation process the meme will lose it’s meaning and eventually… well, that’s when it’s considered “The Joke is no longer Funny”.

The major factor into memes longevity now-a-days is the involvement the creator has in it. Take Touhou, Homestuck, or MLP for instance; their popularities lasted for so long because the original creators where adding more and more content to the intended meaning of each of those franchises. Stagnation wasn’t possible because of the constant creation of new content, and not letting the fans dictate the meanings of the subject matter, slapping them back into line with each new update.

True, these memes usually quiet down to a dull roar after a set amount of time as they will forever remain in-jokes to their respective communities, but that ensures their longevity.

Take Doge or Harlem Shake on the other hand, and leave that to get lost in a massive chain of mutation until it becomes something just outright disgusting. More people interested just mutates the original to that point faster.

That’s my thought on it anyways.

Mar 13, 2014 at 08:03AM EDT
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I think, after a longer period of time, most memes became old and unfunny due to the overuse and/or a newer, better one comes. That’s my opinion.

Mar 13, 2014 at 08:41AM EDT
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It’s a matter of opinion, but when people are intentionally trying to force it down your throat, it’s starts to get annoying in my opinion.

Mar 13, 2014 at 03:06PM EDT
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Mangy Black Sheep wrote:

When they start being used in real-life, especially in politics.

Oh lord, I was walking down the hall at school today and saw a poster about the boston massacre with rage comics. I literally flipped out.

Last edited Mar 13, 2014 at 06:05PM EDT
Mar 13, 2014 at 06:03PM EDT
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GaryTheStormtrooper wrote:

Oh lord, I was walking down the hall at school today and saw a poster about the boston massacre with rage comics. I literally flipped out.

I don’t really think the memes themselves get old, just overused and misused. There are a few random image macros (using popular phrases like “one does not simply..”) in my school about rape, and that just makes me cringe. Perhaps it’s just the commercialism of memes that has people so enraged. What was once a popular joke by a few can get warped and twisted into marketing ploys.


Not enough cringe for you yet? Ok, you asked for it.

How did this happen you ask? Where did we go wrong? Well my thoughts are it all started here…

And then the ball kept rolling and other agencies thought they could take on the web as well. Why not? If it’s popular on the internet, it could be moneymaking!

(Guess what. The top 3 growing products are also very popular on the internet.)

Last edited Mar 13, 2014 at 06:47PM EDT
Mar 13, 2014 at 06:37PM EDT
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Tim the Enchanter wrote:

I find that a meme is a joke that is generated by a community. Once a meme becomes popular in another community, it loses its value to the host community. Rage comics were poplar on 4chan because it was a fun activity that the community engaged in.

Once rage comics caught the attention of the rest of the internet, people outside of 4chan did not understand the parameters of the meme and were quickly abused in unfunny skits with no punch lines and “le” spammed before every noun and verb.

It quickly lost its appeal and was shunned by 4chan users and is now frowned upon by a growing number of communities on the internet.

From my experience, I would say there are 3 categories for memes.

Concept: The idea is not tied to a specific image/video but has certain contextual parameters. These memes are limited to certain communities and rarely go viral. These memes slowly die as the host community changes or it is abused and is no longer seen as funny by the host. If a contextual meme somehow goes viral, like rage comics, they die mainly due to abuse because people outside of the host community hardly know how to use them correctly and become annoying because they are hardly as good as the original material.

Macro: The whole idea is driven by the image and its context. Or, a specific image is a background or centerpiece that enhances the text. These memes start off funny or had a coherent meaning in their host community but slowly die off as they get overused or abused whether they go viral or not.

Forced (not a stupid joke someone made up and tried to make it a meme by making an entry here): There is no real host community that initializes it; these memes immediately go viral. They do not have a host community to act as a catalyst and quickly die off to overuse.

Ultimately what normally kills the popularity of a meme is overuse as a large group or small group of people use them in the attempt to be funny or try to convey their message using a meme with the wrong context. Everybody wants to be a comedian or creative, but not everyone is funny or creative.

I would not say that the concept of hatting a meme is a meme itself because it is an mechanism that is inherent to everyone to hate the overused and to move. It is not an idea that is passed on, it is a psychological mechanism built into everyone. This mechanism prevents social clutter so we can progress at the individual level and as a society.

I will however go on the record to say that there are memes that rarely go through this period of hate because they are very specific; ISHYGDDT, green texting, Tony Kornheiser images and its spinoffs. Contextual memes as far as I am aware are more likely to stand the test of time because they are not easy to abuse; they require certain circumstances to work, and they are not as repetitious as macro or forced counterparts.

I remember years ago, we did a Mall trip around Christmas Time. Before I left the mall, I saw Rage Comic faces on T Shirts and tattoos. When I got to 10th grade, I saw a few students wear a Troll Face Shirt.

Mar 13, 2014 at 06:53PM EDT
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The Cute Master :3 wrote:

I don’t really think the memes themselves get old, just overused and misused. There are a few random image macros (using popular phrases like “one does not simply..”) in my school about rape, and that just makes me cringe. Perhaps it’s just the commercialism of memes that has people so enraged. What was once a popular joke by a few can get warped and twisted into marketing ploys.


Not enough cringe for you yet? Ok, you asked for it.

How did this happen you ask? Where did we go wrong? Well my thoughts are it all started here…

And then the ball kept rolling and other agencies thought they could take on the web as well. Why not? If it’s popular on the internet, it could be moneymaking!

(Guess what. The top 3 growing products are also very popular on the internet.)

Runs off in rage and horror

Make it stop, make it stop!

Last edited Mar 13, 2014 at 07:21PM EDT
Mar 13, 2014 at 07:20PM EDT
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The Cute Master :3 wrote:

I don’t really think the memes themselves get old, just overused and misused. There are a few random image macros (using popular phrases like “one does not simply..”) in my school about rape, and that just makes me cringe. Perhaps it’s just the commercialism of memes that has people so enraged. What was once a popular joke by a few can get warped and twisted into marketing ploys.


Not enough cringe for you yet? Ok, you asked for it.

How did this happen you ask? Where did we go wrong? Well my thoughts are it all started here…

And then the ball kept rolling and other agencies thought they could take on the web as well. Why not? If it’s popular on the internet, it could be moneymaking!

(Guess what. The top 3 growing products are also very popular on the internet.)

I didn’t know Hasbro owned Magic…
The moar you know!

Mar 13, 2014 at 09:25PM EDT

Can we not quote huge long posts in their entirety? Thanks. Just say “@Cute Master”. He will know you are responding to him

Anyway…


@Cute Master

You raise a good point that when memes get commercialized, that’s definitely when they die. It’s interesting that when memes start appearing in that context, everyone collectively agrees that it has been taken too far.

I think about what that is, and my thoughts are that when memes are brought into a commercial context, they are effectively robbed of their former charm as an exclusive in-joke to the internet or parts of the internet.

We like it when memes are just something for us, as citizens of the internet. Something that we understand and share between net citizens and for net citizens. It’s our thing.

As soon as memes are exposed to the public in commercial television. It stops being our thing. It’s been taken from us. It now belongs to the whole world as a tool for it to use in any context. It loses all specialty and meaning towards ourselves and thus stops being enjoyable

Last edited Mar 13, 2014 at 10:30PM EDT
Mar 13, 2014 at 10:30PM EDT
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The Cute Master :3 wrote:

I don’t really think the memes themselves get old, just overused and misused. There are a few random image macros (using popular phrases like “one does not simply..”) in my school about rape, and that just makes me cringe. Perhaps it’s just the commercialism of memes that has people so enraged. What was once a popular joke by a few can get warped and twisted into marketing ploys.


Not enough cringe for you yet? Ok, you asked for it.

How did this happen you ask? Where did we go wrong? Well my thoughts are it all started here…

And then the ball kept rolling and other agencies thought they could take on the web as well. Why not? If it’s popular on the internet, it could be moneymaking!

(Guess what. The top 3 growing products are also very popular on the internet.)

diamond threads are best threads

Mar 14, 2014 at 05:54AM EDT
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Skeletor-sm

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