[Name: Ke Lu] [Student Id: 470315611] [Tutorial: Thursday 3 – 6pm] [Tutor: Cherry Baylosis]
In the digital age, a majority of people are familiar with Internet Memes, especially those people who are active on social media platforms. They have tried to save the Memes they are interested and share it with friends and family members via social networks, then they become the transmitters. The internet and social media make Meme becomes more and more popular online, because of information spread faster and widely, as well as Millennial are well engaged. However, for some social media freshman or someone doesn’t surf the internet often, they might be confused with this internet culture and disconnected with it. Here are some examples of Internet Meme:
This term Meme was first showed in the book by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who defined it as a cultural unit that moves from one person to another (as cited in Nissenbaum and Shifman, 2017). While, over the decades, this concept has been evolved and completed as ‘Internet Memes’ , due to their way of transmission and the speed of replication (Castaño, 2013). These Memes spread from one digital page to another, and the ideas travel from mind to mind.
In addition, an Internet Meme could be and idea, a joke, or a feeling that expressed through different forms, such as an image, a GIF, a word, a video. It always relates to the latest trends, news, political and social issues, and tend to be hilarious and attractive. People can easily and simply understand the humorous messages behind them without trying to analyze (Moreau, 2017), which caused highly shareable. Also, some people post with a Meme to express their current feeling on social networks to attract followers and friends’ attention, this also can be seen as self-represent. However, Nieesenbaum and Shifman (2015) believed there are also some underlying qualities of Internet Memes, which more than just a silly joke to make people laugh as it appears on the surface, it can be seen as a distinctive product of current digital culture. Gill (2017) concluded the concept of Internet Memes either really obvious or really deep.
The main users of Internet Memes are Millennials (aged 18 to 35). This younger demographic are hyperconnected with Social Networks and spend longer time online, they receive new knowledge quickly and happy to share. Moreover, the number of Meme users are increasing, Generation X (aged 36 to 52) and Baby Boomer (aged 53 to 71) users are going to involved in this culture and discover the entertainment fun of spreading Memes to others (Grill, 2017). In fact, these users from all demographics can participate in each Meme group that relates to their own knowledge and interests, and understand the meaning of Memes at the first time. It also associates with another concept ‘Culture Capital’, that people have more knowledge about one topic or trend they will have higher Social Capital in this group. On the contrary, same people might have low Social Capital in another Meme group that they don’t know much about.
People Who Share Common Interests
If you laughed when you saw these two Memes, you definitely have watched this popular HBO Drama , which adopts from one of the best-selling book . Although there are many people following this drama and reading the book, you will still be exciting to find someone have same interests with you right?
These two characters are important in the show. The lady on the left Meme is Daenerys Targaryen, actually she is holding a dragon egg on the episode. But in the Meme, the words describe it as Avocado that I think for most people who never followed the show they might agree, and it’s just linked a popular show with our daily routines that purchasing fruit on supermarket with a serious facial expression. When you understand what it is, it’s just hilarious. Same, on the right Meme, the guy is playing an assassin that he told others he doesn’t need a name, he could be anyone to accomplished the task. But everyone knows if you go to Starbuck, the staff will ask your name and write down on the cup for you to recognize, the connection is just between the drama and everyone’s life experience.
Imaging when you see someone sharing it on their home page, then you notice this person are watching this drama just as you do, and you might going to leave a comment, and both of you can quick get into a conversation because sharing the same interests. Of course, for someone never watched it will only be confused and move away from it.
Internet Memes of Political Criticism
As Plevriti cited in Baym and Street (2013) that there is a relation between popular culture and politics, and entertainment can enhance political involvement and provides a way of understanding politics. Social networks make younger demographics start to pay attention to politics than ever before. We are not American or living in the USA, but all of us may have heard a little bit about this year’s American President election, and the two candidates Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. Moreover, understand few about what were they doing during the election, this global effect seemed impossible to happen just a few decades ago.
Thanks to the Internet Memes, it reminds us the looks of Trump deeply, and most Memes about Trump are making fun of his hairstyle as well as captured his awkward face. Nevertheless, the primary purpose might be entertaining, but the underlying intention could be seen as against Trump. Because the communicate meanings and ideas are badly negative, people who made the Memes was trying to make the messages spread widely and make the president of American looks like a fool. Surely, Trump’s competitors will get beneficial from it and mock him. From another aspect, these Memes also show the liberal democracy on the internet. Publics can share any views whether good or bad.
A Distinctive Way of Celebrities’ Self-promotion
In China, there is an absorbing Internet Meme communication culture. When we’re having a conversation with close friends online, we send Memes to each other when it is relative to the topics and straightforward express the meaning with a sense of humor. For example, when you did something wrong, you are going to apologize to a friend, send a funny apology Meme shows more sincere than just a sorry, and the person who received it might be amused and pleased, which helps to get out from the embarrassing situation.
Sometimes, for better show the facial emotions behind the screen, internet users always use the funny Memes of celebrities. Tao is a very typical example, he is a former Chinese member of Korea K-pop boy group EXO. After he quitted from the group and went back China to continue his career, there are lots of anti-fans who dislike him, they insult him and satirize him on the internet, and screen shot his strange and ugly look from videos to make Memes. Since these funny Memes spread all over the Chinese social media platform – Weibo and WeChat, many people start to use it even they never heard about Tao, and use it to express feelings like exciting, sad, unhappy, scared, angry, etc.
Tao and his team realized this might be a chance, to attract more attentions from publics and let them know more about him. He spoke out when the media interviewed him that he doesn’t mind people use the Memes with his face, even himself think is very interesting and laughed when he saw it, he also uses those Memes when chatting with friends. After the interview, some people think he is magnanimous, amiable and adorable, they start to pay attention to his songs and television shows, and become his fans.
The internet Memes develop for entertaining, and for internet users communicate with friends and people who shares common interests online. Also, some people use it to delivery underlying messages for their own purpose. For further development, the Memes could be a digital product for self-promotion.
Castaño, D., C.M. (2013). Defining and characterizing the concept of Internet Meme. Revista CES Psicología, 6(2),82-104.
Gil, P. (2017, April 17). What Is a ‘Meme’? [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-meme-2483702
Moreau, E. (2017, March 14). What Are Internet Memes and Where Did They Come From? [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/what-are-internet-memes-3486448
Nissenbaum, A., & Shifman, L. (2017). Internet memes as contested cultural capital: The case of 4chan’s /b/ board. New media & society,19(4) 483–501.
Plevriti, V. (2013). Satirical User-Generated Memes as an Effective Source of Political Criticism, Extending Debate and Enhancing Civic Engagement. Retrieved from https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/theatre_s/cp/research/publications/madiss/ccps_13-14_vasiliki_plevriti.pdf