Memes are pieces of media that are making some sort of joke or commentary that spread throughout the internet in different variations. Memes are the genre of comedy/commentary that the internet generation has created. But what are these stupid jokes and why do they become so popular so fast? There have been so many memes that have come in and out of popularity in 2016 alone and we’re not even the majority of the way through.
According to Vice’s interview with someone from “Know Your Meme”, memes are usually based off the simple formula of the inside jokes. Memes being jokes that only certain people get allow for others to search for understanding. This is how they are spread.
As interesting as Vice’s analysis of what makes a meme popular is, I am fascinated by how this phenomenon is used. Memes are used to create and unite an internet culture. Everyone on social media understands what caveman Spongebob means, creating the inside joke effect as well as creating a culture. I feel a part of a community every time I scroll through Twitter because everyone understands and uses these jokes that I understand and use.
Also, they embody their own meaning. There is no formal explanation of what Pepe means and there is no definition explaining what ever the hell this is: . The meanings are “just known” making memes act as language for internet culture. To any “outsider” a picture of Michael Jordan crying wouldn’t be funny to them…why would it be? But it makes sense to the internet culture because we have a context, background, and we eventually come to just know what these things mean . It is similar to trying to explain the definition of “it” or “what”. You can’t define those words because they just make sense to you given the context.When you are learning language you eventually pick up how to use the words “it” or “what” without a formal definition
Another similarity to language is that different memes can be put into different contexts and still make sense. Just like you can use a word two different ways, you can use a meme in two different jokes or commentaries.
The internet is more powerful than people think it is. We as the internet generation have successfully created another language that isn’t spoken…it’s weird pictures, gifs, captions, and concepts. So the next time you roll your eyes at someone glued to their smartphone laughing at whatever the hell this is …remind yourself that they are a scholar of the newest language in the world.