Hello everyone so at the moment I’m working on my graduation thesis and the topic is about how internet memes can change cultures and micro cultures and ho they are used by people. So I’d like to ask if you have some thoughts or something to say about what make you create memes or why do you enjoy memes. You know, if it is possible I’d like to put some of your thought on the thesis itself! I think it would be great so thank you if you leave any comment, it will be really helpful!
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I’m doing some research for my graduation
Sep 22, 2022 at 04:34PM EDT.
Sep 20, 2022 at 07:26PM EDT
6 posts from 6 users
From my experience of memeing, submitting entries and researching for meme origins and meaning, I've found memes to be a very fascinating (to an extent) phenomenon, since it's early internet inception via rage comics to its evolution the current meta of modern memes and how it's established on the internet and our livelihood. I've come to a love-hate relationship on many aspects of memes, but the positives of said relationship is higher than the negatives, by 1 point. Memes can be taken as jokes, but I take a serious approach to memes and its effects on people and society. This could be taken as an elitist perspective, but I'll die on that hill. In general, I view memes as an art, an identity, as currency, and, unfortunately, a weapon.
When I started my memery (it became easier to make memes the more you understand how it works, but it takes creativity and ingenuity, which is also hard) , I learned a lot about our meme culture and what it can entail as an entity. A lot of our memes generally come from larger entities like corporations or communities, or both, (corporations as in institutions of private, public, or governmental entity; communities as in institutions of populations of diverse qualities and distinct characteristics that represent their identities) and we as memers can identify what stood out, like selecting the most iconic picture out of 1000 pictures, to them as individuals and then collectively agree that this specific moment to us makes this moment of our consumption of said material iconic. This material comes naturally to us, either by intention of the direction or by accident in terms of attempt of direction.
One example is Mike Ehrmantraut, a character from the BB/BCS series, distributed by AMC, who we, the community who watched the show, identify as a pretty cool character. This character, like many other characters that have been flanderized in memetic material, evolved into an ironic representative of what itself was parodying i.e. Kid Named Finger by accident (sort of), or by intention where we identified the way we perceive his speaking patterns like the word "Walter" into "Waltuh." Granted it provided cheap laughs, depending on the presentation of memes, it grants a collective identity of who designed it and what audience was targeted. I could go around and say "Waltuh" or Kid Named Finger and other people can join in.
As an art, it takes a lot of effort to make a good meme. A good meme can send a message across to target audience without the need to think, as fast as a pre-thought. It also must fit in a specific niche/genre because going against the meme grain itself is not only hard but will gain no attention, but can become a successful one as long as it is not "forced" (forced as in please laugh at this I find this really really funny so why aren't you laughing) and can fit the exact situation adaptively. Some memes can transcend its own meme, in other words it can evolve into something unintentional/intentional. For example, when Queen Elizabeth passed away, it pipelined into other memes, such as Christianity in terms of Jesus Christ rising from the dead within 3 days, leading up to 9/11 committed by the Brits, simply because the 20th(?) anniversary of 9/11 was within 3 days after Queen Elizabeth's death (I blame the internet for celebrating too early). This would lead up to other older memes for relevancy in terms of absurdity such as two Big Bens destroyed by flying red trolleys.
As an identity, your entire personality, humor, and/or worldview can revolve around a meme so that when shared other people can identify themselves with said meme and create similar memes. For example, one person can hate something and say it publicly in a forum, to which a collective of others would agree with said sentiment, which may inspire someone to make a meme representative of the sentiment and then embraced as a characteristic of the community. /r/okaybuddyretard and /r/okaybuddychicanery are popular examples of embracing an identity in established memes and culture. There are good examples like described above with Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul regarding to entertainment identity, and there are horrible examples like "Cunny," regarding to lolicon identity.
As a currency, depending on the terminology of monetary or other forms of definitions of currency, people pay money to make, or collect and share, memes, use it as part of a business model on social media, depending on the nature of the business or community in terms of upvotes and retweets, or as a collection of memes stored in a computer or phone to provide memes on specific situations. Like rich people, having a record of massive upvotes, producing successful memes with positive reactions to memes, and even collecting memes in general, places a person on a pedestal in terms of cultural wealth, granting titles of a "professional memer" or even "entertainer" status because of the way the meme is distributed.
As a weapon, memes can be used to hurt people. Contrary to popular opinion which a meme cannot hurt people, I will die on this hill arguing this point based on my personal experience (insert Etika's speech about memes). What I mean by weaponizing is memes used as agitprop, purposely designed misinformation for the intent of gaining power or other means, and attacking one's identity, ironically and unironically. All three characteristics are designed for the intention of harming to those who exhibit vulnerability, sometimes ironically to an extent. One example was during the Philippine elections, where mass forms of agitprop was spread on social media in attempts to proclaim Bong Bong as the legitimate president, based on his family history (John Oliver covered this segment). Anti-Vaxx memes were especially dangerous to people who did not take medical precautions carefully and has cause immense damage to practically everything and I hold extreme contempt against those for monetary gain. And finally, attacking one's identity. This is not an easy topic because it can range from the silliest portions, like playing an unpopular yet effective character in a video game, to serious ones like delegitimizing trans identity. YWNBAW was a copypasta designed to be a copypasta for edge's sake, only to evolve in a certain amount of time to be used against the existence of trans people. As overblown as as the copypasta is, the terms used within the copypasta holds an extreme viewpoint that may be interpreted as truth and used constantly as an argument against their existence. And the sum of the paragraph is this: truth. What constitutes truth? What is the framework of the argument of this truth? What foundation makes this truth true? This truth spreads at the speed of a click, and like the collective identity that connects to the meme, so does the ideologies and personalities that entails. All truth is memes, but not all memes are true.
And there you have it. Whatever was floating in my head from my experience laid into text. As I type this rough draft with no proofreading in the span of the hour, I hope that this entry can provide substantial material to your graduate thesis. There are better memers out there who have made success on memes and have better writing than me (which is why I thank the website editors for cleaning up my infodump of writing). If you need help elaborating, you can ask me to specify my viewpoints (or bother someone who can speak for me).
I don't make memes but I will say I enjoyed them because there was something funny to them. That was like 10-12 years ago and the stuff made today doesn't make me laugh but I do like revisiting old memes and having a good chuckle from the memory of it. As for cultures, I can't say much but I can imagine that when internet memes became a thing, there was an attempt at using them in commercials. Wendy's did their spicy chicken "Like a Boss" commerical and then there was Vitamin Water (or a similar product) using a bunch of different memes (or lawyer friendly versions of them) to shill out their product. Finally, there was MAD TV's cartoon back on Cartoon Network in the early 2010's where they had a segment of Thundercats where they focused on memes.
They start off as jokes, or at least most of them do but they can eventually be warped or molded into something like to sell a product as I mentioned or as StormClaymore said, used as a weapon. How many wojaks are made to denigrate a group because the denigrated group had different political and social beliefs from the guy behind that wojak? Another example could be the "I identify as an attack helicopter" meme. I remember it being used to make fun of otherkin but at some point, some people used it to make fun of trans people (or perhaps that was the original goal. I don't know since my first exposure to it was making fun of otherkin such as people who identified as squirrels on Tumblr). Just to reinforce on memes as a weapon, I remember seeing a meme made on the girlfriend of a Youtuber named Vaush where people used some unflattering pic of her to rip one on Vaush. Say what you want about the guy but one could see those images as disrespectful regardless of political alignment and character.
Memes are one of the most popular forms of online communication, and there are many reasons why people enjoy them. For one, they allow us to express our feelings and opinions in a creative and humorous way. They also give us a way to connect with others who share our sense of humor. Additionally, memes can be used to start important conversations about current events or social issues. In a world that often feels overwhelming, memes provide a much-needed dose of laughter and levity. Whether we’re scrolling through our feed for a quick laugh or using them to start a conversation, memes play an important role in our online lives.
I enjoy memes because they are funny and they help me procrastinate. I also like the feeling of being part of an inside joke. When I see a meme that I think is particularly funny, I feel like I am part of something larger than myself. Memes also help me to connect with other people who share my sense of humor. In a world that often feels divided, memes provide a common ground on which we can all laugh and enjoy ourselves. Ultimately, that is why I enjoy memes: they bring people together and make us laugh.
Creating memes is therapeutic for me. It's a way to contextualize my thoughts and feelings in a way that is both humorous and relatable. I enjoy making memes because they help me communicate my ideas in a concise and clever way. Additionally, memes are a great way to connect with others who share my sense of humor. I often find myself bonding with people over our shared love of memes. In short, memes are an important part of my life because they help me express myself and connect with others.
Memes have been a massive form of communication ever since they hit the public as well as ways to connect with people or finding niche interests. I lost count of how many memes used a scene from an old show, movie, song, obscure comic, anime, game, etc. that I found interesting and looked into and actually liked. One example of course is the rise Phonk music being used in meme edits and ending up enjoying them. One example I can think of is someone doing a Doctor Who edit of the Cybermen from their earliest episodes to currently showing it off while having a Phonk song in the background. Another example is the times I found an obscure comic or old comic run thanks to a meme, like the one with a monkey on a typewriter being a panel from one of Animal Mans comics. Memes are a good way to introduce people to new forms of entertainment and media, although it’s a double edged sword since people will find violent extremist groups or being radicalized thanks to memes. But memes are like I said, a gateway into new forms of entertainment and media. A simple image of a smug anime girl can get a person into said anime. A low quality meme of DemoMan spinning to Funky Town can get people into Team Fortress 2. A meme about Breaking Bad can get people into Breaking Bad.
I personally create memes for one of three reasons.
The first is that I love entertaining people. I love making people laugh. I love writing stories and drawing and dozens of other art styles. I love coming up with an idea and then improving on my current skills in order to make it possible.
Nothing makes me happier than making someone else's day just a little less shit. This is the reason why I will happily spend hours to make something that only a few people will see or care about.
This drives me to sit down and think about what the people in general want to see and then creating it to the best of my ability.
The second reason that I create memes is a bit more nebulous but is best described as being the same reason why an artist paints a particular painting or the photographer takes a specific photo.
There's no real objective reason. It just feels "right". Like, this image is meant to be.
Maybe another content creator can explain this better than I can, but sometimes you just get this overpowering urge to make something. You get an image stuck in your mind and you are compelled to make it a reality, which leads to things that aren't necessarily funny, but are pleasing to look at.
The third reason is, well, I suppose you could call it as a tool of activism. To point out something I find wrong with the world and bring it to the attention of others.
I am not an aggressive man, but I can't abide seeing good people getting people getting stomped on without doing something about it.
Anyone who knows me, or keeps track of what I do, can clearly see that I have almost exclusively made or uploaded nothing but memes relating to the Russo-Ukrainian war for the past few months.
I don't speak Ukrainian or Polish, so I can't help at the border providing humanitarian aid, beyond what I personally donate; and I have no combat experience, so I can't take up arms and support what I feel is a just and righteous cause that way. All that I have is my sense at judging what the wider community finds entertaining to upload or create things that I know they will like, in order to keep the war in public consciousness and do my part in fighting the propaganda war on disputing and countering Russian disinformation.
I've also spoken out against China's genocide of the Uyghurs and the authoritarian practices they force upon their own population.
It's not much, and in the grand scheme of things probably comes to nothing.
But at least I tried. At least I did something.
As for why I got into memes in the first place?
I was born in 1994 and grew up with the internet. When I was a kid, smart phones didn't exist, you watched films on VHS and computers were for adults to do boring record keeping and grown-up stuff on.
Then, around the early 2000s when personal home computers became more widespread and the very earliest smart phones started coming onto the scene, the very first memes, things considered dead or archaic now, started to be shared among me and my friends; and knowing the latest injoke made you one of the cool kids.
This was in the era of Advice Animals, YouTube Poops and Filthy Frank. I understand that these seem basic and uncool (I suppose that would be "cringe" in modern speak) now, but at the time, this was all there was. Memery and shitposting was in its infancy, so there were no hard rules back in the day, it simply just was.
Then, as everyone started to get a smart phone, tablet or PC, it started to mature and structures began to form. It also began to diversify as well, as the people who made and spread them grew up; so did the content that was being produced.
I remember spending hours as a teenager reading Polandball comics on my Ipod touch, and I can safely put my hand on my heart and say that I learned more about history, linguistics and culture from these than I ever have from any piece of mainstream media.
Another key point that ties into this is the advent of sites like KYM and Reddit giving each individual image its own comment section. This allowed people, who would otherwise have absolutely no reason to interact with each other, to discuss the image, gif or video, which lead to in-depth discussions about what was being depicted, such as cultural customs, historic events or current political issues in various countries around the world.
Because of this, friendships were formed, rivalries were started and people shared the memes with their friends and families. This caused random gatherings of people to build close-nit communities with deep histories going back over decades.
I can't say for certain when memes were first used as a propaganda tool to wage an information war; but I first experienced it in full force during the 2016 US presidential elections, where this site was drowned in pages upon pages of Pepe the Frog and dozens upon dozens of memes mocking Donald Trump and his gaffes both past and present.
After that point, they were always around. The Soyjak Scourge a few years ago was particularly bad and drove many users from the site whilst carving deep rifts in those that remained. It was a terrible time filled with despair and sorrow as it felt like the community of the site had been gutted, never to return.
Thankfully, things are starting to heal and a new community is starting to form, although the older members will still make references to old users who used to have a name for themselves that jumped ship for greener pastures.
If you want a good example of an effective use of memes in a political setting, I highly encourage you to check out the North Atlantic Fella Organization. They started off as a bunch of shitposters who countered the propaganda being spread by Russian state officials on Twitter too becoming an acknowledged and respected arm of the Ukrainian propaganda department, with heads of Ukrainian branches donning Doge profile pictures and praising their collective efforts.
One last thing I'd like to bring up is the difference between a memer and a shitposter. Whilst they create similar content, they go about it in two very different ways.
The memers will use a pre-existing template or a well known format to make their content. Their content tends to be more broader in scope and will include more references to other things with nothing really new added to the original format.
The shitposter will often create something completely from scratch or will disregard commonly agreed upon formatting rules. Their content is generally aimed at a specific audience, sometimes even a specific individual, and tends to be more personal and detailed than the average meme.
Because of this, the shitposters tend to be the driving force behind the creation of new memes, whilst editing and proliferation by the memers will decide whether a particular creation of the shitposters becomes "mainstream" or not.
That's all I have to say for the moment, but if you have any other questions you’d like to ask me, please do and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.