Millennium Post

Memes:Not so cute anymore

Think of the photos of the scowling "Grumpy Cat" — with humorous text over it, like "the worst part of my Monday is hearing you complain about yours."

Richard Dawkins coined the word "meme" in his 1976 bestseller 'The Selfish Gene'. Dawkins described memes as being a form of cultural propagation, which is a way for people to transmit social memories and cultural ideas to each other. At the time, he probably did not know that someday his coinage will become a part of daily vocabulary across the globe.

Well, if you have any idea of what a ''meme'' is then, congratulations you are fluent with "the Internet." In case you aren't in sync with Internet culture, then memes refer to jokes, urban legends, videos, funny pictures or contagious music that go viral online, becoming a part of the millennial consciousness. Memes are hugely influencing modern language and culture. If the Internet is a community, then memes are the running inside jokes that the members of the community share. They are self-referential, simple and designed to entertain.

How are memes produced? It's basically the Internet's meth lab. It will produce something that the general public can consume. Thus, a meme is born. At this point, the meme is picked up by sites like 9gag, Imgur, Reddit and Meme base. These are the Internet's drug dealers when it comes to memes.

They are much more friendly and safe to use than going straight to the source. They don't produce, they just distribute. Where do they distribute? Facebook! The ageing social media site is the best place to like, comment and share the produced memes. Now that we have laid a foundation of some basic context surrounding the meme culture, we can start talking about how these seemingly harmless cultural artefacts are slowly but surely taking over us.

The Internet, by sheer virtue of its instant communication, is the medium to spread modern memes on the social media. Few examples of modern meme symbols and culture spreading through online media are, Hodor, Leo Dicaprio toasting and Numa Numa Dance (Memes which have some element of humour), and Angry German Kid (Memes which are also about shock-value and drama).

Many marketers create a meme with the goal of having it "go viral", by exponentially increasing the number of shares. The more people see your image the more traffic comes to your fan page or website… and more traffic equals more money. The question now is how to make a meme go viral. If you want lots of people to share your meme, here are some things you should consider:

Mass Appeal :
Be sure that your image appeals to a large group of people, your target audience. If you try to make a meme that is only relevant to a small group of people, it may not be as widely shared as an image that has a universal appeal. It is important to keep a balance reaching your intended audience yet having enough mass appeal to help your meme go viral. Here are some of the memes that have gone viral:

Pierce Brosnan: Indians woke up to newspaper and billboard ads of Pierce Brosnan aka James Bond holding a tin of a brand of pan masala, and nothing could stop them form creating awesome memes out of it.

Chatur: Several memes feature Chatur Ramalingam, played by Omi Vaidya in the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots. The image is from the film's intense 'terrace' sequence where Chatur challenges Rancho to make a more successful career than him in the next ten years.

Modi strikes again! The G-20 Hangzhou Summit in China was held on September 4 and 5, 2016, where world leaders came together to discuss global issues such as trade and terrorism. This perfectly timed meme-worthy photo was clicked at the event and destined to become a viral joke. It shows Modi pointing his index finger at Barack Obama, the ex-president of the United States.

Aamir Khan: Bollywood perfectionist Aamir Khan displayed his dedication and commitment for Dangal, through extreme body transformation just for his character in the movie. the before after images led to many funny meme jokes on weight loss.

Tiger Shroff: Shroff junior is known for his flexible body and for his martial art skills. Shroff shared a photo of himself doing a perfect split on his official Facebook account and set trollers on a mission to create innumerable memes.

Humour:One of the best ways to make a meme go viral is to use humour. If you take a look at some of the most popular memes, almost all of them use comedy other than sarcasm to get their point across. The funnier the meme the more they tend to be shared.

Where to Share:
In order to make a meme go viral, you have to make sure it is seen in the first place. Pinterest is a visual sharing spot perfect for making images go viral. You can also upload your memes on your own blogs and photo sharing sites like Flickr.

However, the most popular places to share viral images is Facebook. A larger percentage of people spend time there every day. The site also makes it extremely easy for others to like and share
your image.

Type of Meme:
Political memes thrive on over-simplifying a given topic. Serious debates and international conflicts are complicated issues that can't be properly analysed in one JPEG's worth of space, but that doesn't stop people from trying, anyway.

In an age of fast-food content, fake news, and sensationalism, it's easy to understand how we may be craving the return of a little nuance in digital communication. A meme provides a more complex yet concise and flexible expression of the verbal and visual sentiment that we can use to communicate in a manner that perhaps more closely resembles the way in which we communicate in person. Just as symbols that represent more complex ideas are some of the most efficient forms of cultural expression we have, memes condense the richness and nuances of certain sentiments into a single communicative unit.

Combine this with a basic psychological drive to create content as a form of expression and identity formation, and plenty of sites that let you do so easily, and you have a potent formula for the proliferation of memes.

Are Memes Vulgar?
Also, on the other side, memes have deep roots in an Internet culture of trolling, and many gleefully test the boundary between humour and hate. Those who create and share offensive memes, often try to downplay the offence by saying they were "just jokes.

" Tagging a mate in a meme helps ease into a chat. Memes are ice breaker now between two friends. And why do we love tagging our friends as comments in meme posts? It's our passive and semi-public way of telling our friends that we miss them. Even when we tag our friends in a post that roasts them, it's a way of showing affection. Memes reassure us that we share common struggles and joys. It doesn't matter if you're a fireman or a financier, Floridian or Finnish, fifteen or fifty — we can all laugh at the same meme of a fluffy Corgi puppy tumbling down the stairs.

In an era when we all seem so divided, we're reminded of being connected somehow because we laugh together. For, at the end of the day, we're humans, and we are meant to laugh together. Memes have changed the way we communicate with one another — it's hard to google any popular trend without seeing at least one photoshopped picture of an animal or presidential candidate. While we may be chuckling at the current state, memes have become one of our most important communication tools. Certainly, among friends, the practice of creating and sharing memes is here to stay. As one friend explained, "there's just nothing else that can top a well-timed meme."
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