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Forced meme or real meme?

Last posted Aug 30, 2009 at 12:10AM EDT. Added Jul 13, 2009 at 11:59AM EDT
35 posts from 16 users

if someone says " Post ending in 0 makes this a meme " will it actually be a meme?

Jul 13, 2009 at 11:59AM EDT

In situations like this, it will be a forced meme.

Jul 14, 2009 at 07:15AM EDT

In most cases, declaring something a meme is just pure BS. A meme usually has to be an idea that masses of people find worthy of continuing to propel and create derivatives of over a long period of time. It must establish a history of user-interest. That kind of thing doesn’t usually come automatically just by calling something a meme. But there are those cases of spam-flooding that results in a bandwagon effect that just doesn’t seem to go away. I believe that’s what’s implied by the saying, “sometimes a fail is so epic that it turns into a win.”

Jul 17, 2009 at 02:57AM EDT

Meaning that the public must agree that something is a meme, before someone can just declare it a popular internet phenomenon.

Jul 20, 2009 at 09:25AM EDT

isn’t a meme like a “hip” trend. where the more you announce what your doing his “hip” the less “hip” it becomes?

I always think meme’s happen because of a natural understanding that “yes, that is indeed epic….because memes…they go whooo whooo”

Aug 27, 2009 at 12:33PM EDT

Seriously though: I don’t think it’s actually possible to “create” a meme. One merely presents content… other people make it a meme. A piece of content is not a meme -- the meme exists around the content

And if you declare that it’s a meme…? =>


Aug 27, 2009 at 02:07PM EDT

^ oh philosiraptor you never ceace to amase me.
and no its not a meme
is bs

Aug 27, 2009 at 04:48PM EDT

what about camoawam? you gotta admit he is important too.

[user was banned for this post. forcing your own meme is a bannable offense.]

Aug 27, 2009 at 07:20PM EDT


Aug 27, 2009 at 08:57PM EDT

It’s something that Redspear was trying to force on this site. Just ignore it. It got old real fast.

Aug 27, 2009 at 09:39PM EDT

i got banned for it

Aug 27, 2009 at 10:30PM EDT

Yup. Trying to create a meme on a website that’s dedicated to documenting memes upsets the balance of the kittehs and will get you banned.

Aug 27, 2009 at 10:33PM EDT

So-- hold on. Back up. So then a “forced meme” is better defined as content forced into the tubes with the intention of creating a meme; only when said content gains momentum of its own does it go from being forced content to being a forced meme?

Aug 28, 2009 at 01:32PM EDT

I think almost all content wants to be a meme -- that is to say, popular. Marketing is an entire professional practice built around making things that are catchy, remixable, easy to share with your friends -- memes!

“Forced memes” are when the content is SO BAD that people have to actually tell you that “it’s a meme”

Thus, if you say it’s a meme… it probably isn’t.

Aug 28, 2009 at 01:43PM EDT

Hmmm… or are internet memes the anti-marketing? Marketing is the practice of shaping public attitudes with media and information to the benefit of the marketer. Memes are postmodern entertainment for entertainment’s sake, usually without attitude shaping intention.

Are there any really good examples of a marketing or advertising campaign being appropriated and becoming a meme that actually damaged the original marketer/advertiser?

Aug 28, 2009 at 01:58PM EDT

“without attitude shaping intention.”

How do you account for trolling?

Aug 28, 2009 at 02:10PM EDT

Yes, trolling can be an exception. There are exceptions. But how many LOLcats have you seen that are created with the shaping of markets in mind? I don’t think that the majority of memes are meant to persuade. Thoughts?

Aug 28, 2009 at 02:56PM EDT

AKA: the scourge of my mornings. AKA: reading emails saying “check out this new site. it’s becoming a meme!” and it’s all geared toward one agenda or another whether it’s to sell reusable water bottles or to build up hype about someone’s upcoming novel, or to help further the PR clout of any particular individual. The viral web is full of people trying to influence not only the financial landscape online but also the philisophical, moral, and intellectual landscapes.

Usually once it’s discovered that there is someone orchestrating the PR around something, trying to “make a meme” we stop calling it a meme and refer to it as astroturf.

Aug 28, 2009 at 03:06PM EDT

So if a marketing campaign legitimately went viral, it could gain meme status? And what happens when it is eventually exposed (take your own SPARTA example)-- would it survive based on the strength of content alone, despite being bogus?

Can you think of a marketing campaign that gained as much momentum as the dancing baby (without intervention from an outside source, like that Aqua Teen stunt where the guys got arrested because the police thought they had a bomb).

Aug 28, 2009 at 03:11PM EDT

Astrotruf-- because a meme should be legit grassroots by definition?

Aug 28, 2009 at 03:12PM EDT

Typically when an audience discovers that their beloved viral content was actually a marketing campaign, there is something of a backlash.
At first everyone thought Lonelgirl15 on Youtube was a real person, but her videos were later revealed to be a fictional production and many fans were quite upset. The show continued onward, but with everyone now aware of the fiction, the show was able to expand out more, incorporating more characters and action sequences.

When I think of a meme, I think of something that spreads among many people in a grassroots manner; a direct person-to-person spread. Online, this happens in forums, on message boards, etc. This way, with each new instance of the meme, it gets mutated a bit by whoever has created the new instance. If a meme jumps from SomethingAwful to 4Chan, there are observable cultural influences on the meme.

But if your job is to promote and advertise something and you craft your marketing to appear as though it was just any old user generated content, and you create a mass of fake accounts that build up fake hype about that content, then what you’re doing is astroturfing.

Now here’s the real kicker: If you’re successful in your astroturfing, you will actually inspire people to carry on your idea, and create their own derivatives. At that point, you have successfully created a meme. Something very close to this occurred with the Christian Bale Rant.

As for my example of SPARTA:
I never said that the memetic instances of “This is SPARTA” were incited by MGM, but I was throwing the concept out their for conjecture. I’m curious to know how people would feel if hypothetically, MGM execs had decided to craft the THIS IS SPARTA meme on their own, posing as random forum members? Would people stop liking the THIS IS SPARTA meme? Or would they continue to embrace it like they do?

Aug 28, 2009 at 03:31PM EDT

Astroturf as a term for false grassroots isn’t just limited to internet memes, but comes from politics.

Ideally, yes a meme should be a legit grassroots phenomenon. Otherwise there’s no point in analyzing the meme. Memetics tries to examine why an idea becomes popular. If the answer to that is “because it had a huge PR budget” then you’re not really talking about memetics, you’re talking advertising.

Aug 28, 2009 at 03:40PM EDT

See, when a meme happens organically, it is an idea that spreads its influence based on its own qualities. How “likeable” is it? How “attention grabbing” is it? What made people decide to create more of it? If it chaged form in new instances, what factors influcenced those changes?
This is the approach one takes when analyzing a meme.

A viral ad campaign tends to lack mutation. The owners of the source material tend to like if their property doesn’t change; as often happens with huge memes.

Aug 28, 2009 at 03:44PM EDT

I agree with you wholeheartedly. Virility hinges on the ability to adapt and mutate, and by virtue of that, the folks who are trying to create “viral” marketing campaigns that stay on-message are undertaking the impossible.

Aug 28, 2009 at 03:52PM EDT

I feel like my brain turned to mashed potatoes a while ago on this. I think before I make too many more assumptions about how memes behave, and what’s possible through marketing I’m going to have to just do more research. Good thread though, so far.

Aug 28, 2009 at 05:15PM EDT

It would be fun if someone had the psychological knowledge of memetics to actually design a meme that succeeded according to prediction. But we’re not there yet (although I haven’t caught up on research). Rather, some forced memes will turn into actual memes just because there are so many who makes them and someone is bound to succeed sooner or later purely by chance. As of now, I’d say that the intention of the creator doesn’t matter, they’d just be lucky intentional or not.

Aug 28, 2009 at 09:37PM EDT

Btw, I believe Dawkins has some good ideas about what makes memes successful in “The God Delusion”, esp. “continuous” vs. “discrete” memes and action vs. intent. Also, it’s worth thinking about whether a meme contains both the content and the instructions to copy them, or if instructions alone are a meme in itself (like how to link to YT). I don’t know if analogy with genes and enzymes are a help or an obstacle here.

Aug 28, 2009 at 09:43PM EDT

I think this helps.

The main reason that Advice Dog and the Bauex Tapestry are so prolific is because they have generators. Any time a person comes into contact with a macro generator, there is a good chance that the meme will spread to some small degree.
This is relevent because it differentiates that type of meme from a photoshopping meme.
Photoshop skills do not come automatically. And while the overall skill needed to produce most memetic instances is absolutely entry level, the skill is easily acquired, but it limits the meme to a semi-skilled demographic. Your mom/grandma will never forward you something she shooped. But she may FWD:>FWD:>FWD:> you some virtual roses that have been floating around the tubes for a decade plus. And on Facebook, you will be forwarded every damn survey meme out there if you have extended family on your friends list.
Nice one bringing up whether or not they contain replicating instructions. That is going to be one to consider more often.
I’m gonna take some time here to mull over the rest of those ideas.

Aug 28, 2009 at 11:44PM EDT

i hate forced memes….
however i enjoy most of the non forced memes like pdobear etc

Aug 29, 2009 at 11:42PM EDT

@ epic win
I didn’t know Pedobear was forced.

@ Chris
Hey, could you ask redspear75 to not click “Submit”, “Send”, “Post” or whatever button is there more than once to get pages to load faster? I know it works, but it flooded my inbox and one of my meme entries, so I showed him what it does, but he did it again with a discussion thread. I don’t want to look at my entries and see duplicates of his comments EVERY TIME.

Aug 30, 2009 at 12:01AM EDT

Actually, Chris, it’s not that important to me anymore. It’s actually kind of umm…. shall I say AMUSING to see my inbox flooded with duplicate messages.

Aug 30, 2009 at 12:10AM EDT

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