Living in a Meme World
The internet was once a place where producers would send out content for consumer’s entertainment, but now it is quite the opposite. Ordinary people are now the ones creating entertainment for other consumer’s. People build new identities online, and they do so by expressing themselves through what they create. Where the internet was once a space for advertising and information, it is more so now a place for self and cultural expression. The people who create and the people who watch are seemingly becoming the same person.
Memes are everywhere. You see them on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Facebook; anywhere you go to for entertainment on the internet, you will see a meme. A meme is a graphic created by someone on the internet. Meme’s are mostly made for humor, and a lot are made for political propaganda. Let us use the show “The Office” for an example. “The Office” stopped airing in 2013, yet so many memes that we see include scenes from the show. The reason that we still see so much “Office” content is because the show will never not be popular. People are going to be rewatching “The Office” until they take it off of Netflix. The Michael Scott and Dwight memes will never get old, and the creators of these memes know that for a fact. For people who have never seen “The Office,” they will be more inclined to watch the show so they can understand the meme. “The Office” memes are obviously geared more towards people who have seen the show, but it also invites people who have never seen the show to learn more about it. This form of discourse brings people together to like and appreciate the same things.
The people who create the memes need to know their audience. No one is going to respond well to a meme if it is from a show that is not popular. The most important part of a meme is catching the consumer’s attention with the right photo. The photo needs to be something that people recognize, that way more people will read the text. The text then needs to be something funny or culturally relevant so people share it. People go onto the internet searching for content that they have never seen before. Once the audience sees something that is original, they either steal it, share it, or simply like it and move on. People steal original content all the time and pretend like they created it. On the internet, it is basically a free-for-all unless you have a Creative Commons license, but people only really do that for YouTube videos. Producers (that are technically consumers) find the biggest compliment to be when people share or recreate their content and give them credit for it.
Not everyone is going to like or appreciate a meme and this mostly happens when it involves politics. A lot of the time a meme will have a photo of a politician with text that is completely irrelevant to politics, but people still find these offensive. Memes are actually a great way for politicians to reach certain groups of people. If Biden or Trump were to share a meme about themselves or the opposing candidate, then people who are familiar with memes are going to enjoy the content. A lot of these political memes go viral, which is either very good or very bad for the person who was involved in the meme. For example, there is a meme going around using Trump’s recent debate quote, “I am the least racist person in this room.” People who did not watch the debate could now think different things about Trump due to this information. In this situation, the quote in the meme was proven correct, but other times memes could spread fake news. Whether memes are spreading accurate or inaccurate information, they are mostly used for entertainment and are a great way for consumers to act creatively.