here are lots of aspiring YouTubers out there on the world wide web, but the space becomes increasingly crowded with each passing year. Despite the struggles of breaking out from obscurity, YouTubers like Lessons In Meme Culture manage to find their niche and build a loyal fan base among the crowded seas. Launching his channel back in 2017 and finding his stride over the last few years, LIMC has become a recognizable favorite among meme and internet culture fans around the globe for his informative yet entertaining approach. To discover more about how he got interested in the internet to begin with, as well as how his channel started, we sat down with the Australian man of memes to retrace his rise to prominence.
Q: Welcome, thanks for joining us. We’re big fans of your work, but for those who aren’t familiar with your channel, would you like to start us off by introducing yourself and let everyone know what your content is all about?
A: Thanks for having me. It’s honestly a huge honor to be here. Lessons in Meme Culture is really just a channel dedicated to convincing people that internet and meme culture is an art form. Every meme has something to say, no matter how weird, bizarre or unintentionally hilarious it is. If I can convince people of that in an authentic way that’s straight to the point, then I am happy.
Q: Let’s retrace some of your background and work our way up to the creation of your channel. So how’d you become interested in memes and the internet at large? Could you tell us about some of your earliest online experiences that piqued your curiosity in the topic?
A: I became interested in memes and the internet when I was really young. There was this entire world packed away into my monitor and I spent ages looking at random websites for “weird stuff” I couldn’t find anywhere else.
Q: When consuming memes back in the day, which sites and communities were primarily your go-tos for such content? Any you miss in particular or even still use to this day?
A: I used to hang out on eBaum’s World and Newgrounds as an adolescent, but I went through this huge phase in my early teens when I would just hang out on Memebase all day pressing F5 [refresh]. I think that really solidified the idea that memes were going to matter a lot in the future.
Q: So then in June 2017, you created the LIMC channel on YouTube but didn’t actually post anything until about a year later. What was the reason for the delay? Could you tell us more about the name and general concept for the channel and how you came up with it?
A: The question about the delay is pretty easy to answer — I made an account without any intention of posting anything, then in 2018, I decided to start making videos. It just took a while to decide to actually make something. The general concept of the channel came up while I was writing a thesis. I found that meme culture affects the offline world as well as the online world in really interesting ways. In this instance, I found meme culture was fueling the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar. Ultra-nationalist Buddhist monks use memes to depict the Rohingya as killers and rapists, which leads to mass killings and genocide. It’s still happening. I find that stuff fascinating, and from there, I wanted to explore the relationship meme culture has with society.
Q: Was the channel your first attempt at such content creation or were there earlier experiments before it?
A: I’d made a couple of meme compilation channels in the past, but I didn’t find it particularly fun, so I moved into talking about memes instead and enjoyed that a lot more. Producing content feels good.
Q: The first two videos posted to your channel discussed the People Who Thank the Bus Driver and Lord Marquaad E memes, which analyzed and explained what they were. How’d you settle on covering these two in particular, and what was the response like after you uploaded them?
A: Those first two were basically my testing videos. I loved those memes, and I wanted to see what a video about them would look like. The initial response from people was pretty blasé — I’d just uploaded videos for the first time and no one really cared. The audio quality was pretty bad and the music volume was too loud. Simpler times.
Q: Harking back to those early days of the channel, would you mind sharing some of your creative process and what that was like? How has it evolved over time since then as you’ve honed your craft?
A: During the early days, it was a lot more difficult to make content — I didn’t have a structure and hadn’t settled on video length. It took about a week or two to make one video. I knew I wanted to make the videos short because I felt that constraint would force me to choose the most interesting information surrounding a meme. I got a lot more efficient, and it takes a few days to make something now.
Q: With such a research-based approach, how do you gather information and find interesting details for your videos? Are there any techniques, tools or sites you use for such investigations into memes?
A: If a meme is coming up a lot in my normal browsing, I like to see if I can find the first instance of it. Usually, there’s some interesting element to it that I can pick out and talk about — almost every meme at this point has some sort of reference to another meme or artistic trend, and after doing this for a couple of years, it gets a lot easier to spot the patterns. If I can’t find the first instance of a meme myself, I like to check Know Your Meme to cross-reference. You guys do an incredible job and are perfect for checking dates.
Q: We appreciate the commendation, it’s mutual. So, your video “The Comprehensive Guide To Boomers On The Internet” that was uploaded in September 2019 was the first on your channel to break a million views. How’d you react to seeing this one perform so well, and was it one of those moments where you felt like you were onto something with the channel?
A: I think that may have been the second one to hit a million (the first being the Npesta reaction video), but it’s definitely one of my favorites. It was pretty nice seeing it blow up, considering I was in the middle of a big move at the time and couldn’t make any other content to supplement the channel. I’m pretty sure it did well because there was this massive snowballing anti-Boomer sentiment online after years of seeing the “anti-Millenial” news articles and comics when Boomers were behaving in extremely childish ways online. It was frustrating for a lot of people and cathartic to have a video exploring those frustrations.
Q: Although some view memes as inconsequential or frivolous, your tone is that of a serious, educational and informative approach that fans seem to really love. How’d you settle on this style and why do you think it works for such a humorous subject?
A: Ultimately, I believe no meme is inconsequential, even if they’re hastily chucked together in a couple of seconds. A meme is made because it expresses an idea or, as Dawkins said, a “unit of culture.” Just like any piece of media, they reflect cultural values, no matter how simple or complex those might be. Although I’m not extremely serious about it, being able to recognize the importance of memes in a respectful manner just reflects the way I look at memes personally, and I think people can relate to that.
Q: As meme and internet culture archivists ourselves, we’re curious what it is about such topics that you find so fascinating, but also why you think it’s important to help others learn about and understand them. Why do it?
A: You can use memes to make anything, market anything, convince anyone of anything. When it comes down to it, they’re just an extremely effective form of communication. It’s important for people to learn about and understand these communication techniques so they can understand them or use them for themselves. It’s a bit like how English class in high school is important because analyzing themes and underlying messages in dense literature helps you get good at figuring out what scam websites or scummy advertising techniques look like when you’re an adult.
Q: Of all the various memes and viral phenomena you’ve covered in the last two years, which ones were some of your favorite examples to cover, and why? Any you covered but didn’t necessarily enjoy working on?
A: Any video that can help people understand how influential meme culture is has been fun to work on. Doing a video on deep-fried memes was great because it allowed people to see how meme culture emulates trends in the art world so closely, like how deep-fried memes mirror Alvin Lucier’s piece “I Am Sitting In A Room.” I’ve never hated working on any topics, but there have definitely been times where I’ve felt like a particular meme was a bit shallow or repetitive and those can be less fun.
Q: How’d you ultimately settle on YouTube as your platform of choice, and how do you generally feel about it as a content creator? Were there any others you considered or experimented with?
A: YouTube has always been a mainstay of meme culture since it came out. I’ve used it since then, and it’s felt like home to me. It feels like a natural choice for short-form informative content.
Q: Depending on the topic of one’s content, the YouTube community seems like it can be really great and supportive or quite toxic. Do you like or dislike the community surrounding YouTube and your channel, or does it have its ups and downs?
A: The YouTube community is generally pretty supportive. I’ve been able to talk to some really fantastic creators and a lot of people in meme culture that I look up to as artists. It feels good when people you’ve been following for years say that they’re fans of your work. Being interviewed by you guys feels really good too.
Q: Of course, we’re definitely fans of your work as well. So you’ve also collaborated with some fellow creators like Internet Historian and So Good to produce content. Who are some of your favorite YouTubers to work with, and how have others who are in that internet culture space received you since coming into the scene?
A: Internet Historian for sure — he’s a genuinely great guy and is always willing to help out. So Good was fun to work with too, as well as Sumito Media. At the moment, I’m working on doing a collaboration with Cursed Judge about cursed images, which is fun. It really feels like a lot of the people revolved around meme culture want to be friendly and involved with one another, and it feels awesome to be a part of that. I’m definitely looking forward to collaborating with more people. Surreal Entertainment and a couple of other people reached out to congratulate me on reaching 500,000 subscribers recently, and that was genuinely unexpected and incredible. Ultimately, I want to be part of (or at least contribute to) a community where people work to support each other and prop one another up.
Q: We spoke with Internet Historian last year, who’s based out of New Zealand, and it seems like that part of the world has a particular interest in meme and internet culture. Why do you think that is, and how does it differ from other parts of the world?
A: Australians and New Zealanders have always loved laughing at themselves. Absurdist humor has always been hugely popular in our countries, and I think modern meme culture with all its weird elements just appeals to that part of our brains.
Q: Many YouTubers spend years and years struggling to attain any noteworthy success or attention on the platform, even if their content isn’t necessarily bad. In your case, however, you’ve managed to accumulate quite a following in a short period of time, so what would you say your secret to success is? Was there a particular moment when you took notice of this, and how did you react?
A: To be honest, I never intended on getting a following, I’ve always just made videos on topics that I’ve found personally interesting. I still feel like a small channel compared to everything else on YouTube. I guess the secret to success is probably just dogged consistency and wanting each video to have information that is interesting and true. Other than that, it comes down to luck.
Q: So what’s going on these days in the world of meme culture? Any big trends or phenomena you’ve noticed that you plan to cover in the near future?
A: I’ve been extremely interested in the fact that there are studios out there making quality content and paying good meme creators. Neverthink and Cowbelly are two really good examples of this, and I’m happy to say I’ve been working with Neverthink for a while. I’m interested to see if any other studios pop up. Aside from that, the return of Rage Comics is pretty cool.
Q: More recently, could you share some of your favorite memes with us and tell us why? Aside from your analytical videos, do you ever create memes of your own?
A: Whilst Salad Fingers will always be my favorite internet-related character, I’ll always have a soft spot for Troll Science and Rage Comics. They were fun back in the day, and I love that they’ve come back with a healthy dose of cynicism and occasional body horror. Aside from my analytical videos, I haven’t made many memes. Oh wait, there was one I made using stock images a couple of years ago in reference to something I heard an old lady say once. It’s not great, but I’ll send it through.
Q: To end things here, it seems fitting that as we head into 2021 with such a meme-heavy and utterly insane year in our rearview mirror that we take a moment to do some predictions. As a meme analyst that’s covered 2020 extensively, what do you think this new year will look like as far as memes or internet culture trends? Do you think this is even possible to predict or anyone’s guess?
A: I think we’re going to see a lot more Rage Comics (or at least more Wojaks in the style of Rage Comics) coming in, but it’s always difficult to predict what the next “big thing” is going to be. Meme culture is art, and generally whatever comes next in art and meme culture is a reaction to whatever was popular before. A couple of years ago, extremely surreal memes were all the rage, but now we’re sort of moving back into semi-structured content with recognizable characters and formats.
Q: Any final word or additional info you’d like to add?
A: Thanks for having me, it’s been a real pleasure.
Lessons In Meme Culture is an Australian-based YouTuber focused on educating people about memes and internet culture. You can find more content on his YouTube channel or support him through Patreon and his store on Teespring.