“A picture is worth a thousand words”, is a well known proverb. Pictures have this remarkable ability to speak a lot without even having any words. The internet is humanity’s archive of knowledge which I can attribute to the great library of Alexandria or the Baghdad house of wisdom. But even these great libraries are equivalent of a paper to whatever the internet houses. Among all these, WE HAVE MEMES. Memes are an inherent element of the internet’s culture. Trying to explain a meme in words is similar to explaining memes to someone who doesn’t know what a meme is. It’s hieroglyphics to people who don’t know them.
The beauty of memes is unexplainable. It’s just a picture with a subtitle yet it speaks so much. It is a looped video of a few seconds edited below something, yet it is so humorous. When I try to deconstruct it to explain what makes it funny, I can’t, despite my instinctive understanding of it. One does not simply explain a meme and make someone understand it.
Once I accidentally sent someone who doesn’t know memes, a meme. That little manoeuvre cost me 51 years. There are two kinds of people on the internet. Those who understand memes, and those who do not. Some memes require 7 years of internet knowledge and multiple nuances of understanding.
The beauty of memes is that it’s not a closed subject. There are always new memes being born with change in current events in business, politics, entertainment, science, arts, relationship even classical arts are meme’d or anything else you can think of, Geology? We got memes for those, Cats? We got memes for those too. If there is a subject, there is a meme for that. If it exists, there is a meme of it. (There are other variations too, if you know what I mean).
Memes are not just for fun, since they are derived from current events, they are used to fuel social movements. Bring light to a lot of injustices that are happening. The famous ice bucket challenge which raised a huge sum for ALS or Alzheimer’s research started out as an internet craze. Memes were used in Nigeria to raise awareness for COVID-19.
Memes are now embraced by emerging startups and big businesses alike in their marketing campaigns, and it is working. I am intrigued when I get a targeted meme ad it initially looked unprofessional, but hey as long as it works, it works. If it is stupid and it works, it ain’t stupid.
Memes have a very short life span on average, when someone or something becomes viral, the subsequent meme will be all over the internet for a month, and sometimes it’s as low as one week. People attempt to place themselves in situations hoping they can become famous by becoming a meme clip. But the internet decides who becomes a meme. The creator of a meme is unknown and goes uncredited most of the time. But that’s also the charm of it. Someone makes something as a joke and little do they know it’s being shared by millions of users simultaneously while they take a bathroom break.
Since most memes are derived from existing material, it has caused disputes over their usage. Copyright claims being thrown around is common as the terms of fair use are often complicated and tend to go over those who are unaware of the legal jargon.
It personally has been a huge part of my internet life. And I feel internet memes will forever stay and it will never be obsolete. The concept of conveying a complicated feeling or information with a picture and a quote is an invaluable asset.