By Heather Bertram
If you break down the words social media into a more basic concept, you get a social instrument of communication. As much as many people think that the concept “social media” is new, it has actually been around since the 1950s which is actually longer than digital media which originated in the 70’s (Borders, “A Brief History of Social Media”). Social media started with the telephone and is now in computers, smart phones, tablets, and all kinds of modern forms of technology. In approximately June of 2009, Social Media began being shared with applications to download music such as Napster and Limewire. Later on, this led to Social Networking and Social News Websites like Myspace and Facebook. “Social networking is built on the idea that there is a determinable structure to how people know each other, whether directly or indirectly” (Churchill & Halverson 14). These social networking sites greatly increased the field of marketing and made it easier for people to spread business by “word of mouth.”
Word of mouth is the spread of communication of something from person to person by speaking. Traditionally, this took a lot of time and effort, but with social networking, you could update a status on Facebook and instantly spread a message to hundreds of people. (Qualman 2).
Here, is where the topic of “memes” come into play. Although people may not know exactly what a meme is, most have seen them and just didn’t know they had a name. Memes are, “easily imitated and transmitted images that cross social networks because they resonate with common experiences, from enjoying the beauties of nature, to personal identifications with branded products” (Lasn 1999). Since people love to relate to others and share common interests or experiences, the popularity of memes has increase greatly in the past couple years. Although there is a light heartedness in the reasons people make, share and talk about memes, memes are actually very important in the stepping stone process to the future of technology and how it affects our means of communication. If Social Networking wasn’t a concept ever invented or thought up, many businesses would not exist, many friendships and relationships may have never been built and many people would have to find other means of communication, marketing and advertising. This same type of thinking applies to memes as well. If memes had never been thought up, people would not be able to share messages, jokes, ideas, entertain one another and most young adults would not be informed on the various hot topics of this generation.
Like most things involving the ever changing fads of this generation, memes come with unspoken guidelines and almost a whole other language to catch onto if you choose to check them out.
The video link above really gives the viewer the full impact of how common memes are and how many different ones are out there. It also includes text at the bottom written in “meme language.” Though there is no real definition of what meme language is, the viewer will notice the patterns with the different words used for certain categories of memes.
For example, one of the most commonly shared meme is the “lolcat” meme. Cats are considered to be the most viewed topic on Youtube and in the meme world, they are just as important. When trying to understand a lolcat meme, you have to take a few things into consideration: kitty pidgin will almost always be used for comedic purposes. “Kitty pidgin” is the language used for the text written above and/or below the photo of the cat meme. Kitty pidgin is not written with correct grammar but rather written in singular verbs to show innocence or unintelligence. Below, is the perfect example of kitty pidgin.
Another example of an important meme to know about is the “Rickrolling” meme (which came up often in the chorus of the video above. Rickrolling is when you trick someone into clicking a link to a music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up “. The link is often masked with something else, so the person has no idea that the video is going to pop up. When the video does come up, bam, you got Rickrolled.
This is the video that would show:
Lastly, another common meme to add to the list is the “fail” meme.
As shown above, fail can mean the opposite of success or win. In these memes, fail is used as a verb just like in English, although it is usually on its own. It implies that whatever happened in the picture did not work like it was suppose to. Often times, the word epic to add emphasis. So you could see a picture like this one,
And know that the “fail” of this photo is more severe than a regular fail meme.
The more someone sees and becomes familiar with memes, the more fun they can have with it. They could even make their own memes and share them with friends, family or the public. Since there are millions of memes, you can never really run out of them to look at because of all of the categories and diversity in the ideas that people give to their memes.
Borders, Brett. “A Brief History of Social Media .” Copy Brighter Marketing. N.p., 02/06/2009. Web. 1 Mar 2012. .
Churchill, Elizabeth, and Christine Halverson. “Social Networks and Social Networking.” IEEE Computer Society. (2005): 14-19. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. .
Lasn, K. 1999, Culture jam: The uncooling of America, New York, William Morrow.
Rick Astley Never Gonna Give You Up. 2008. Video. Youtube
The Meme Song. 2011. Video. Youtube
“Top 10 Internet Memes.” Squidoo. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar 2012. .
Qualman, Erik. Socialnomics:How Social Media transforms the way we live and do business. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons Inc., 2009. 1-84. Print.