Everything is a meme if you're bold enough

Brief anthology of memes that hide in our everyday life and viceversa

Seiti Andrea, Lisa Finetti

Who has never laughed for a meme? (Boomers don't count, obviously) Here's a brief journey through the internet's most popular (and sometimes controversial) content.

What is a meme?
My grandma when I try to show her a meme

First ideated in 1976 by Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene”, a meme (/miːm/ MEEM) is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture, often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme.A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

You before reading this article

Memes started as a niche creation on now very widely known platforms such as 4chan, Reddit, and 9Gag. Memes were, in a way, considered an intellectual property. Something with meaning. Something the users of these notorious platforms held dear and once feared could become “mainstream” with the coming of social networks handheld by the shifting of society from PC to smartphones and tablets, making information, creation -and consequently memes- even more immediate. Indeed, this was the tail end of an era, one defined by the once-ubiquitous image-macro template as applied to subgenres like Advice Animals, LOLcats, and Doge. In a matter of a few years, memes have changed, and by a long shot. Not only did they shift template, but also committed to an entire generation depending on them. Quite the contrary to what 4Chan founder Christopher Poole had predicted in a 2012 final meeting of a biannual convention on memes (also known as ROFLCon) during which he stated he was “wistfully nostalgic for the slower-speed good ol’ days” and was afraid the mainstream would have killed memes and ceased creativity.

That doesn’t mean our generation is pessimistic by any means, we are -in fact- just more open and at ease about getting to know each other’s feelings.

Millennials lost faith in our political system, they feel lonely, they tend to put aside family plans such as getting married, having kids, housing and transport just to pay their student loan debt whilst job-hopping constantly. That doesn’t mean our generation is pessimistic by any means, we are -in fact- just more open and at ease about getting to know each other’s feelings. A good reason to give props to memes -An almost universal way of sharing such feelings throughout dark and sometimes nonsensical humour- which is the best and quickest way to dramatize sensations of emptiness and despair nowadays. Needless to say that such openness in a prior, stereotype-ridden past society (that is sadly as close as the ‘90s) -when “boys had to be boys” and didn’t cry, didn’t talk about feelings, and whomever went to a shrink (or therapist you choose) was thought to be a loony- didn’t exist at all. That’s a very big step we as a whole took. And that’s all thanks to memes.

Types of memes
No caption needed

Memes can come in multiple forms, there’s three actually:

Words. Memes can be composed of short sentences or just a few words: if you heard of “The Game” in the last decade there is a high probability that you have lost it. The latest trends on “written memes” comprehend “Bomboclaat” (“What are your thoughts on this?”) on Twitter, often linked to an image, and one of the most powerful inventions the millennials have ever produced: Ok boomer.

Images. We have come a long way since the “Rage age” at the start of the decade, but pictures are still the favourite meme format, progressively evolving in videos since the Vine Era.

Sounds. Sound memes may be the first form of ancient memes, for example, ridiculous sound effects in tv and radio shows. Now the trend is to use songs and intros (e.g.The Avengers theme song, Mad World, The Sound of Silence, etc.) along with videos to make iconic, short memes (basically vines, but with less fantasy).

Even Disney knows what's going on

While at the start memes mainly came from popular TV programmes or very famous films or film sagas, with the rise of Skynet, pardon, the internet and its spread, we have reached a point where memes can be made in seconds with a few taps on an app, exploiting already existing templates or creating new ones with everyday photos (they could go viral too). Memes take inspiration from:

Hall of Memes
Only a meme lord can recognize another meme lord

Elon Musk. The founder of Tesla, The Boring Company and Space X deserves a spot in our Hall of Memes not just for being a meme himself (“Laughing Elon Musk” and “Elon Musk smoking pot on the radio” are just two examples), but for ideating the marketing campaign with the highest cost/success ratio of the century. On 21st November 2019, Elon Musk presented Tesla’s pickup: the eccentric and futuristic Cybertruck. Its futuristic design and Elon Musk’s popularity among the internet asylum of professional memers made Tesla’s latest creation go viral all around the world, pre-orders reaching half a million in February. And the best thing? Elon Musk didn’t have to spend a single penny for the Cybertruck’s promotion and advertising. After this success, he is officially recognized at an international level as a meme lord

Elon Musk didn’t have to spend a single penny for the Cybertruck’s promotion and advertising.

Spongebob. Who says that cartoons are just for children is a liar, mostly given that there is the 99% possibility that he/she watches them too in the dead of the night instead of sleeping. One of the main sources of trending memes in the last years is Nickelodeon’s Spongebob: from Spongegar to Mocking Spongebob, these memes never really go out of style.

POTUS. Famous people are often fertile land for memes, but the last two POTUS have proven to be literally a gold mine of memes. From the Obama/Biden bromance to the historical meeting of Trump and Kim Jong Un, these last 12 years of American politics have been a joy for all the fellow memers all around the world. Memes are dynamic and ever evolving: they are a cultural trend that isn't set to end anytime soon... Hey, what's that music?

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