What Is a Meme?

From The Grammarly Blog:

Perhaps you’ve heard of a meme but don’t quite “get it.” Chances are, though, you’ve seen a meme and related to it—even if you didn’t know what it was called. Memes are a cultural phenomenon often used as a form of social commentary.

What makes a meme successful isn’t its length but rather its ability to resonate with a particular audience and capture a cultural moment or trend. Here, we’ll define and explain what a meme is and offer a few tips in case you want to try your hand at writing your own meme.

What is a meme?

Now, you might be wondering how to pronounce the word meme. The correct pronunciation is meem (rhymes with dream)The modern-day definition of a meme is a humorous image, video, piece of text, or GIF that is spread across the internet, typically on social media, and often with slight variations. Memes can be created by anyone and can be about anything, from current events, to mundane tasks, to pop culture references.

The length of a meme varies. Because they can take the form of images, symbols, text, videos, or GIFs, they can be as short as a single image or phrase and as long as a multi-minute video with an elaborate narrative. Some memes have short-lived bursts of popularity on social media, while others endure for years.

Memes appear almost everywhere you find digital files being shared, including:

  • Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok
  • Online communities like Reddit and Tumblr
  • Messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Discord, and Telegram
  • Image-sharing sites like Imgur and Flickr
  • Online forums and discussion boards

Where do memes come from?

The concept of memes traces its roots to biologist Richard Dawkins’s 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. Dawkins defined a meme as a cultural unit that spreads from person to person, much as genes spread through reproduction. The term meme itself comes from the Greek word mimema, which means “that which is imitated.”

Dawkins’s book shows that examples of memes go back centuries. But these days, when we think of memes, internet memes are usually what come to mind. The first internet meme is widely considered to be the “Dancing Baby,” a 3D animated baby doing a cha-cha dance that became popular in the late 1990s.

What’s the purpose of a meme?

Memes serve a variety of purposes, including the following.

  • Providing humor, analogy, or entertainment
  • Expressing emotions and feelings
  • Conveying cultural references and social commentary
  • Fostering a sense of community and belonging through shared experiences

Link to the rest at The Grammarly Blog

For those who don’t remember:

2 thoughts on “What Is a Meme?”

  1. I always found that baby creepy. The blank, disconnected expression was chilling, particularly as the norm for babies is to be eager to connect with other living things (and, in the days before they realize the difference between living and non-living, they smile, coo, laugh, and otherwise treat toys as something to relate to).
    One of the earliest milestones is smiling at people. Even before that, they will stare at moving objects. To be a true baby is to WANT to interact with people. One reason that autism is so upsetting to parents. That normal feedback process is broken.

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