Are Memes Meamingless?

The internet has been under constant, rapid development since the dawn of memes. Generally speaking, written communication is the dominating medium. However, visual communication was quickly applied wherever possible. Picture and audio streaming provided access to perfectly blended cocktail of face-to-face communication. They are now be viewed as the go-to options even when formal conversations and teleconferences are had.

Internet Memes are perhaps normally thought to be limited to social networking sites. Users create and upload material related to certain topics, all the while contributing to the meme’s evolution. New material is viewed by other users and given votes of approval. This increases the popularity of the material, thus giving birth to a new meme. The new one can (and surely will) be used for other purposes, all influenced by whatever the public finds most fitting.

Image Courtesy: MEME


The nature of Memes is vast and vague. However, each individual Meme can be a potent vessel of setting a very specific, emotional state. A visual Meme lays a foundation of context, e.g. a specific situation, emotion, or a topic. The written content is combined with the visual one in such a way that they compliment each other. This helps in making sure that the reader receive a tailored message. Memes are allowed to evolve and become powerful symbols and icons. The distinct meanings that they represent indicate that they are tools whose functions are decided by the ones who use them. This supports the idea of using them in more formal, written communication. However, that holds true only if all communicators mutually agree on its meaning. Many companies try more and more to relate to younger demographics. Therefore, they use memes. Zomato, Nike and even high end brands like Gucci have tried marketing via memes.


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Memes in education:

Educators can get ideas about how to incorporate memes into their classes. is a crowd-sourced tool available to teachers which helps them convey messages to their students in a meme format. This makes the lectures much more interesting and can make the subject matter way more memorable.

Image Courtesy: Economics Memes

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Memes nowadays are quite obscure however, and usually last for anywhere between a few days to a couple weeks. Their popularity soars initially and depending on the content the longevity is decided. Or is it? Some are so random and baseless that precisely those reasons are what keep it alive. For example, a meme that was doing the rounds just a week ago was just the statement ” They did surgery on a grape ” .

Image Courtesy: Twitter

That’s it. Surgeons in the US actually did perform surgery on a grape. This was to test out their new robotic instruments to make sure that they could handle the most delicate of operations. However, the whole scenario was so obscure that this statement went viral. No punchline, no context but this was all over the internet for about a week. Compare this to the original group of memes that are still usable but no longer even close to as popular. These include ones like Confession Bear, Bad luck Brian and Success Kid. A consistent format that everyone could relate to on some level.

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The future:

As being active online becomes more and more the norm ( which it already is ), it is likely that we will see changes in  culture. More so when users of popular online culture become older. However, many older meme “ veterans” would disagree with the more obscure memes that popup every week or so. Meme based visual communication will definitely become an even bigger part of the future development of the internet. Moreover, the future participants of online communication will surely benefit from exploring this option if done correctly.


By Abhishek Aggarwal

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