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The 'whys' of Internet Memes

Last posted Oct 20, 2012 at 08:29PM EDT. Added Oct 15, 2012 at 08:19AM EDT
10 posts from 8 users

Hi guys.

Just a brainfart. At school, I was taught on how languages and the media interact with each other to affect the audience.

Reading recent KYM articles, I’ve found that there’s quite a lot of details coming off on how the meme spread (e.g. due to one person spreading it through social media, etc.) but what I think is lacking is on the ’why’s several memes are popular and spread out to begin with.

Is it the humor? Is it the catchy catchphrase? Is it because of the manipulative languages that created infinite puns? Is it because of the music? Is it because of them being successfully forced for a certain party’s benefits? I think that some articles, especially the confirmed ones, need to be specific on the ’why’s such memes are spread out in order for a more complete research analysis and research, will then I think we can gain more understanding on Internet Memes as a whole, by finding patterns and such.

Just a thought. What do you think? Are Internet memes too spread out for general and conclusive statements about them? Are there just several things that needs no explanation (and thus makes their popularity self-explanatory)?

Eh, this is my first time posting here. ^^ Sorry if something is lacking.

Oct 15, 2012 at 08:19AM EDT
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Because internet.

Oct 15, 2012 at 10:39AM EDT

Memetic science isn’t about “why?”, it’s about “Why not?!”

But seriously, that’s a good question, usually asking ‘why’ memes happen will get you the answer ‘They just do’.

This is because most proper memes are spontaneous and this is why people usually call advice animals (advice dog spinoffs) forced memes; all they did to get popularity was reposting, imagination from internet users and the easyness that’s behind adding text on the top and adding text underneath.

And by this logic, I do believe the true meme is the advice dog and the spinoffs are sub-memes or just variations.

Last edited Oct 15, 2012 at 11:00AM EDT
Oct 15, 2012 at 11:00AM EDT
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I remember an old KYM episode where they discusses the “I like Turtles” kid, and what made it funny. (An unusual statement made to an authority figure [the news]) and in that same episode they went on showing similar (somewhat) viral videos with the same formula. They did a good job on getting the “why”.

“Why” is a question that requires a LOT more research than “what”. For “what”, you google some things, find old posts, find origins, etc. For “why”, you’d basically have to do a survey, or a psychological study of the internet populace at large, which is quite an undertaking. While we’re committed to meme research here, most of us don’t even have lab coats to do research IN, let alone time to conduct surveys.

Oct 15, 2012 at 01:21PM EDT
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I’d say it’s because of conformity. Once the majority have taken noticed of a particular internet meme and decided to share it among those who have not encountered any of it before, these people may later on just accept it as “what’s new” or what’s trending nowadays to keep themselves updated from it. In other words, it’s just like the bandwagon effect.

Other reasons in relation to them as being humorous, which I believe, could be because of their clever use of wit, its tendency to catch a visual appeal, and its strong influence towards one’s given perspective and experiences (personal, social, and the like).

My two cents.

Last edited Oct 17, 2012 at 10:51PM EDT
Oct 17, 2012 at 10:49PM EDT
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I still think the French said it best. These things have a certain “je ne sais quois”.

Oct 18, 2012 at 02:44PM EDT
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I’ll say that meme science is mostly about how and not why, but there is one big why.

Why do people repost/remix/pass around the things that they do? It’s because they find it comical or intriguing.

The rest is all how.

Oct 20, 2012 at 09:48AM EDT
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Serious Business wrote:

I remember an old KYM episode where they discusses the “I like Turtles” kid, and what made it funny. (An unusual statement made to an authority figure [the news]) and in that same episode they went on showing similar (somewhat) viral videos with the same formula. They did a good job on getting the “why”.

“Why” is a question that requires a LOT more research than “what”. For “what”, you google some things, find old posts, find origins, etc. For “why”, you’d basically have to do a survey, or a psychological study of the internet populace at large, which is quite an undertaking. While we’re committed to meme research here, most of us don’t even have lab coats to do research IN, let alone time to conduct surveys.

Ah, I agree that it might be a little bit too complicated to research so, though I believe in the quote “actions speak louder than words”, that is, looking at the effect of the memes intended would really give a big why, yes? I do not think you need to go as far as asking them individually, because I’m sure each individuals will give random results.

@scary03 Interesting. Even on the Internet, the hype can all be about being updated with what’s new. Though, what about Internet users that used the old ones, to see if others remember them?

@Katie C. Indeed it is, knowing how memes do it I can agree would be the most interesting. However, does this constitute asking the ‘why’ irrelevant, thus accepting that memes did it wildly? Also, do you think that both answers you gave can generalize and conclude the whole ‘why’ question?

Oct 20, 2012 at 10:22AM EDT
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Abnormalities gain attention. Scan through the list of memes on the site and count how many memes are due to grammatical errors, mistranslations or just someone being plain stupid. Just like in real life, ideas (“memes”) that have something that we can condescend upon, will make us feel superior and thus we spread it.

Oct 20, 2012 at 08:17PM EDT
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For sure, anything that is abnormal can be notable.
The most significant part of the road to memedom is notability, because if it is notable people take interest, if they take interest, they remix it.

Oct 20, 2012 at 08:29PM EDT
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Skeletor-sm

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