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What is a Meme?

Updated on June 11, 2012

Meme defined:

A part of a culture or subculture, including behavior, images, ideas, words, music etc., that is duplicated and/or imitated on the internet.

A Cultural Phenomena?

Memes are something that has cropped up in recent years thanks to the internet and social media. A meme is a combinations of images and/or words that create a meaning that is understood by those within that given culture. Initially it started as taking things out of context, but now it has evolved to include things as simple as Troll Face (see the bottom face on the image to the right).

But is this phenomena really new? I think not. While the delivery system is new, the idea of the meme is as old as culture itself. Sure the concept has evolved to new heights (or low depths, depending on how you look at it). Be it the oral transfer of stories to the adaptation of music, images or the like, memes are essentially are the duplication of an element or behavior of a give culture. It just so happens that with the internet this duplication is increased. Furthermore, the duplication is more obvious since information is free flowing.

The use of images similar to the original propaganda poster featuring Uncle Sam or Rosy the Riveter are perfect example of this. Furthermore, the duplication of the color scheme & feel of the 2008 Obama Campaign is yet another example of this.

Below there are may other examples both in video and image of what the modern meme is or can be.

The band Weezer duplicated many popular memes in this music video.


This is how some elderly people react to a popular meme from 2011.


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    • JenCary profile image

      JenCary 5 years ago from Texas

      Have you seen the meme of the Olympic gymnast? I think her name is Kayla Maroney. I find myself making this particular face sometimes!

    • jeanihess profile image

      jeanihess 5 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      :) Enjoyed

    • ibbarkingmad profile image

      Brian 5 years ago from Utah

      Ah, but you see, a meme can be duplication of other's work. For example, the first and last photo memes are relatively new in their creation but are based off of other memes in how they are presented. The first in the use of Troll Face and the last in its mockery of the motivational poster format. So you really shouldn't feel bad about not recognizing mores of the memes. The idea in this hub is to help people understand the cultural implications of memes and that they really aren't a new idea, just and old idea with a new delivery system.

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Funny you should post this. I was looking on Google for a definition last night. Now I have a general idea, but I think I'm not enough a part of the popular culture still to recognize a meme when I see one. None of the memes in your hub or videos were familiar to me. I guess I'll just have to remain out of it.