How strong is your meme game? Or, I'd rather say, how 'dank' is your meme game?
Today, sharing and even making of memes is a piece of cake for everyone, but not many of us know much about the concept and evolution of memes. What are they? How did they permeate our culture? And, are they significant enough to be carved into an entire discipline? This article tries to answer questions like these.
What are Memes? (and not Maymays…)
Meme, by definition, refers to a feature that is replicated within a culture thereby making it in an element of cultural propagation. But today's internet-driven, tech savvy generation holds a somewhat simpler conception of a meme: an image (or a video), usually coupled with a piece of text, depicting a particular situation or mocking an entity, which is spread not just within but, across a number of cultures, by pixel-obsessed millennials.
A Degree in Memes?
Ever since we all received our first memes, whether in the form of a whatsapp message, or an Instagram post, we've been driven by the urge to share as many as we receive, and the typically humorous ones. This, in itself, is a reflection of the constantly growing meme culture. The reason why we are lured by this culture is because it allows us to resonate with others' struggles and emotions, in a comical way. But that's not it. Memes are a way of communicating and passing on information, they contribute more to our political awareness as well as insights, than any other medium does. So, in order to study the intricacies of an ever-evolving culture, analyse its impact, and to learn to use it to our benefit, as a tool for marketing, propaganda and counter-propaganda, considering it an essential element of electronic media, I feel universities can offer a separate degree in memeology.
Mad over Marketing?
Memes are designed for virality, the extent of which is what determines the popularity of a post. Brands, while seeking to endorse their products, have to look for the smartest bandwagon strategies. It is essential to know the target audience, and in cases where youngsters constitute a major chunk of it, we know memes provide them with the language they would willingly want to decode. In order to use these tactics, students need to undergo training in terms of content, language, visuals and graphics, and also be well acquainted with the kind of product they wish to advertise.
A political propagandist in making?
Just like television and radio advertisements are essential elements of election campaigning, memes in the form of visuals and slogans with dramatic and rhetorical effect can be employed, too.
Moreover, given the vulnerability of most social media users, using youth oriented tools makes it fairly easy for politicians to spread their message and make the youth more aware of what their ideologies are. This obviously has significant implications for election results and government policies.
Are universities offering degree in memes?
Surprisingly, top-notch universities like Cambridge and Berkeley have already started offering degrees in memeology. Indian universities such as NIFT and NID are expected to be the first ones to take a step in this direction. Despite this, we cannot say many people are in favor of the idea of a degree in memes, primarily because of the lack of job prospects, and well, making memes isn't that big of a deal. But, no matter how easy it seems, meme making is a skill and it does require practice. Creating something that has the potential to appeal to all categories of people and isn't too complicated to understand is an art which doesn't come naturally to everyone. Some might even liken it to creative writing, and say it cannot be taught. A student of Delhi University, obsessed with dark humor says, "For me, memes are a way to very subtly state facts that otherwise people find offensive. However, using them for any purpose besides fun is going to spoil their pure essence. They'll become like YouTube ads! Can't one god damn good thing remain immune to commercialization?"
But overall, considering the current phase of globalization and the need for effective means of communication, studying memes as a separate subject is a way of recognizing pop culture as a significant element of societal growth and development. A student of political science, keen on receiving and sharing memes, says, "Meme making is an innovation, an art, and every new innovation should be encouraged, not just by words but with something of value, like a degree. It gives a person, who's keen on further innovating and developing, a sense of purpose. Also, it is like involving oneself in the world of media. The way cartoonists and caricaturists are recognized, meme artists should be, too."
Memes make life simpler, and no one would disagree on that. So, there might be a heated debate on whether or not a degree in memes should be given, they is one thing everyone’s sure about: they are not going to soak in redundancy anytime soon- they’ll continue to be important and enjoyable, across cultures worldwide.
1. Who used the term ‘meme’ for the first time?
Ans. “Meme” was coined by the famous biologist Richard Dawkins in his book, ‘The Selfish Gene’.
2. How is the word pronounced?
Ans. Meem with a long ‘e’ sound.
3. How can I make memes?
Ans. The following websites allow you to make your own memes:
4. What is a dank meme?
Ans. It is a meme used to mock a joke for being overused and clichéd.
5. Why have internet memes become so popular?
Ans. Due to the relatibility factor.