Internet Culture for Beginners: What is a Meme?

Posted by: Maxine Brimmer (3 years, 1 month ago)

Before we start, let’s clear up one mystery that has haunted this issue since its inception: it’s pronounced “meem” like it rhymes with team. With regards to the internet, a meme is defined as an element of popular culture which is passed on from one user to another all over the internet. This can be in the form of a popular phrase, a video, an image or anything else that can be potentially shared by users.

Chances are that if you’ve been on the internet for even a few moments here and there then you’ve already been exposed to memes, some even become so popular that they make it into mainstream media or even large news channels. The sudden global popularity of South Korean rapper Psy’s song Gangnam Style is an excellent example of a meme which first became popular by going viral on the internet before reaching global game. The single became so popular that it went on to win the MTV Video of the Year as well as charting in many countries around the world.

The important thing to remember about memes is that they don’t necessarily make sense, think of them as internet inside jokes between users around the world. Viral videos and popular images can seem ridiculous to people who aren’t used to the internet subculture’s particular weird brand of humor. Since information travels so quickly on the internet, and given the creative resources many users have at their fingertips, memes can be remixed and changed hundreds of times before they begin to catch on in popular culture.

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