Week 4: Memes

What is a ‘meme’? Building on the readings from this week, define ‘meme’ in your own words. Remember: a ‘meme’ can be many things beyond our current use of the term as tied to viral digital content.

A meme is a way of one culture mimicking another culture. I see this word more often today because there are many cultures that exist on the Internet, and people find a way to create these digital memes to imitate them. When I see memes on the Internet, I see them as funny irony. They state one thing about a culture and then mimic the concept. For example, the Grumpy Cat poked fun that she had fun once and hated it. People only knew that to being funny because the cat is ‘grumpy’, and having fun is something the cat would never do. Society has done this for centuries now, but we never called them memes because we never tried to identify a relationship.

For example, in another class that I am taking, we are learning media culture and sport, and started off learning about the history of sport with the Greeks, and there adaptation to the Olympics. Centuries later, the Victorians brought back the Olympic style that the Greeks came out with, but changed it because it was vicious when the Greeks came out with the Olympics. The point I am making is that it may not be the typical meme that people would think of, but in a way it does fit what the definition of a meme is. It does mimic one culture from another, so it can be a meme.

I think that it is more so a culture replicating the concept made by another and applying that to fit the society we live in. So I can say that memes have existed longer than before Dawkins came up with the term in his book because there are many other examples that can apply to the term meme before we ever got a real definition for it.

In “The Power of the Meme”, Sarah Kendzior writes: “ Memes create the illusion of participation in a political system from which people feel increasingly alienated, a system run on wealth that is incomprehensible to a normal person.” In your own words explain what Kendzior means. Do you agree/disagree with the author’s argument? Explain why.

I think what Kendzior is trying to say is that memes make us feel uncomfortable about certain lifestyles people try to portray. I think that whenever people watch a show or see someone they like on television where something that may be inappropriate, they would try their best to replicate that style. For example, the show Jersey Shore garnered a lot of attention for what they wore and how they acted, and people either hated it, or replicated that style. And Kendzior states that people, who mimic other people who participate, are the ones that are alienated, and it done through digital content, including memes.

 Do I think that is fair for other’s to make fun of a particular culture for trying to participate in a culture, no, but I think that her argument is right, yes. Memes are small ways to poke fun at a culture, but only do so if the culture is still around. Kendzior brought up the Romney example because that was the story that was going on at the time. Since then people do not really talk about him anymore, and that is why memes stopped around him. “This is the power of the meme- the power to make us forget. We forget about the tedium of political battles hard-won, about the bureaucracy, which fences us in, about the grim reality of those left out. I like internet memes- I post them, I share them, I laugh at them” (Kendzior, S, 2012). Going back to the example on Jersey Shore, it was funny seeing memes at the time it became big, but after the show ended, so did people mimicking their culture, and so did the memes.

Why should we care about memes? In other words, what is the cultural value of a meme?

To me, memes are important because it creates personal opinion about a culture. Not everyone should agree to one culture, which is why people have different views on everyday topics. Memes are not tended to be hatred acts, but funny pokes at a culture. That is the cultural value of a meme, is personal opinion about a culture, without it, people would live in terror if they had the same culture. Imagine, everyone agreeing to live in the same culture like the one Jersey Shore.

Whether or not people should care about memes is up to them. Memes are fun to look at, but anyone can look at a meme differently and may act differently to them. To me, I am fine looking at memes, even if they may fun of something I like because that is who I am. Another person may be offended by a particular meme and could report that for being inappropriate. It is just depending on the person and how they take in that relationship between the picture and the text.

Memes today are expanding now. Not only does memes continue to happen in pictures, but also in videos. Platform like Vine, which is 6 second videos that you can share to your followers, has mimicked a lot of cultures that we see on television today. And what makes them different is it not always on the whole culture itself, but at a single moment in time. And who knows where memes will be in the next 10 years or so, how it will change or if they will remain the same. It seems that where technology goes, so does memes.


Kendzior, Sarah. The Power of the Meme. Aljazeera. 30

    Oct.2012 http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/2012102914110457228.html


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