What are Memes?

A meme is a term for an idea or behavior that is spread and becomes popular in a community or a culture. Currently, the meme is understood to refer to images that are widely spread on the internet.

A concept that became popular in the era of development of social networking platforms, but Memes have relatively long roots. The father of the term is Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene. This 1967 book used the term meme to describe the ideas and behaviors used in a culture.

One of the characteristics that make memes so popular in the Internet age is creativity. When a new meme is born, dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of variations of it will follow. Every time internet users find an interesting meme, they tend to personalize or reinvent the meme content to suit their own needs. Several creative versions of the meme are enjoyed by many users. So a new meme was born.

Origins of Memes

The term "meme" first appeared in print in 1976 in Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins calls it a Mimeme word, a word derived from the Greek word for imitation. The word was later abbreviated as “meme” due to its similarity to the word.

Dawkins coined the term because he was trying to find out if there was a unit of measure that describes how ideas spread and propagate through generations. So to put it simply, a meme is an idea of what a gene is for a physical trait. And in the same way that genes and physical traits evolve through natural selection, Dawkins believes that anything that has the potential to evolve — like memes and ideas — has done so through natural selection. course.

Memes have been around long before the internet existed. In fact, they've been around since before Dawkins coined the term, appearing as early as AD 79 in Pompeii ruins and in the late 1970s, in graffiti.

What were the first Internet memes?

The first internet meme that could be pinned for a special baby dancing went viral across the internet, before eventually appearing on an episode of Allied McBeal.

In 1996, graphic designer Michael Girard created software that showed how motion could be programmed and projected through a computer. The final design is a model of a baby showing different movements from Cha-Cha-Cha. Girard's owners then sent out a demo to the developers to show off the capabilities of their software. One of the demos was sent to the inbox of a LucasArts employee, who then turned the video into a GIF and shared it (mostly via forums and email, but also on the site in development), send it into a widespread sensation.

The Hampster Dance was the first popular internet meme. It's a website that features rows of animated GIF hamsters that dance to an accelerated version of the song "Which Stop Stop"—a song used in Walt Disney's Robin Hood credits. The website was created by a Canadian art student in a competition with his sister and a friend in 1998, to see who could generate the most online web traffic.

After generating only 600 views in 8 months, her website suddenly went viral. In just four days, her website had more than 600,000 views, gaining popularity through emails, blogs, and even bumper stickers.

Collection of Meme types

Image and Text Meme

This is the simplest form of Meme when you just need to insert Text into a funny picture, but you also need to make sure the sentence in the picture is also funny and matches the scene equally. Memes of this type are used by many fan pages and get a lot of likes, becoming a hot trend and have many other variations.

GIF-like memes

Adapted to a funny animated photo, GIF Meme has recently become widely used, causing real laughter. GIF memes often appear in comments or when chatting via messages.

Story meme

Surely you have heard the name or seen the stories from the fan page, this is the form of Meme Comics. You see, its viral speed is terrible when each post reaches several thousand or even millions of shares and comments.

Video Meme

The hottest ones right now are video memes on TikTok, short videos that go viral.

How have Memes evolved since then?

With the extensive usage of social media and sites like Reddit, 9GAG, and 4Chan, it is becoming increasingly simple for memes to gain popularity and spread virally overnight, with millions of daily visitors desiring at least one or two lols.

Prior to the internet, memes were frequently associated with political or cultural issues, and their popularity lasted far longer than it does now. While some memes survive to this day, the majority pass from viral to forgotten in a very short period of time. This is partly due to how fast the internet moves (there's always something new to grab your attention) and partly because of how easy it is to create memes.

Memes have also moved away from political or cultural themes to focus more on pop culture references and satirical life observations, making them relatable, funny, and easily viral. like a forest fire on the internet.

An important case of evolution in a meme would have to be LOLCats and the entire language surrounding the meme itself. LOLCats use an innovative spelling style with their memes, called lolspeak, which personifies the cats depicted in the images.

Since 2010, the LOLCat Bible Translation Project has completed a Bible to lolspeak translation, even going as far as to translate the New Testament. But things don't stop there: an esoteric programming language called LOLCode was born, which uses the same spoken format in LOLCats memes, to form a meme that keeps evolving beyond a simple picture...

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