By Andreas Gkoumplias,
We all know what memes are. Images, short videos, or GIFs with usually popular characters from shows/movies that are used often with a one-liner to help us express our emotions or thoughts at any given moment easier than using words, I have to admit. Most of those images are pieces of content that have been remixed, changed, or replicated to better stress a point, make fun of a situation or an individual and creatively (and often smartly) criticize.
Acting as the very foundation of internet culture, these images/videos/GIFs, etc. have proven to be very reliable in expressing public opinion. In our day and age, scrolling through your social media once will be more than enough to find a meme and say ‘’Oh, now that’s something I can relate to’’ or ‘’Oh that’s me!’’ or something similar anyways. These little images are made in a way that they give voice to experiences, ideas, concerns, and so on, in a very clever and not stereotypical and repetitive way.
There are various ways for a meme to come to life and become trending/viral; from a blooper from a social event to a social trend going live right now, to a random format found by a random guy surfing the internet at 3 AM, memes can emerge from pretty much anything nowadays. Now, whether they become viral around the globe (e.g. the Spidermen pointing fingers at one another) heavily relates to how easy it is to understand the meme (meaning the more knowledge/ background info needed, the smaller the audience) and to share it.
Memes have also become a great way of communicating with people throughout the world, sharing the same sense of humor, and providing a safe space for people with the same interests or the same experiences in an otherwise completely chaotic digital space.
One of the interesting uses of memes is political satire and commentary. Without a doubt, it is one of the categories that people love the most, as they can take advantage of any political situation, good or bad, and comment on it in a more relaxed, sarcastic, and stress-free way than normal. Being able to make the best, in terms of content, out of stressful situations is a win and yes, memes excel on that one!
However, it is important to take into consideration that sometimes memes can show a darker, more gruesome side, as not all people using them mean well. Memes can be a part of cyberbullying, in the form of hate speech, used to hurt an individual on a personal level, and often can be used as a form of discrimination. Moreover, one aspect to also take into account is the misinformation that can arise from their extensive usage. Because no one perceives the world, sense of humor, and ideas the same, without proper context/ explanation, memes can be a tool of misinformation for some people, leading to manipulative actions towards them that could have consequences.
Overall, everyone loves a good meme! It can make your darkest days a bit brighter and it is a way to engage with a lot of people and give voice to your thoughts, as well as connect with people that think alike.
- The influence of memes: Unveiling the power of internet culture (2023) Times of India Blog. Available here
- Mirage News (2023) Memes and Society: A Cultural Phenomenon in Digital Age, Mirage News. Available here
- Knowing meme knowing you – How memes influence our society (no date a) Knowing meme knowing you – How memes influence our society | University of Westminster, London. Available here