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The surprising academic origins of memes

https://theconversation.com/the-surprising-academic-origins-of-memes-90607

theconversation.com

The surprising academic origins of memes
There's never a dull moment on the internet, and that's got a lot to do with the fact that the content shared online is constantly changing - thanks in part to the creativity of users who remix, parody or caption popular images or videos, to create memes.

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Memes

Memes

The content shared online is always changing because of the creativity of users who remix, parody, or caption popular images or videos, to create memes.

Memes may seem basic, but from a linguistic point of view, they're remarkably sophisticated, expressing and sharing ideas and opinions.

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Origins of memes

Memes have their origins in the world of academia. Richard Dawkins coined the term 'meme' in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. Dawkins describes a meme as "a unit of cultural transmission or imitation."

The word comes from the Greek 'mimema', meaning imitated.

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Going viral

Going viral

Internet memes are units of popular culture that are shared, imitated, and changed by users.

The first meme on the internet was the sideways 'smiley' :-) , created in 1982. The practice of using punctuation markers to show emotion spread quickly and later other expressions, such as :-( and ;-) were added.
The first example of digital viral content is the Hampster Dance meme - rows of dancing hamster GIFs - created by an art student in 1998.

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Next-generation memes

New memes emerged that included animals with human characteristics, such as Advice Dog and Grumpy Cat.

Later in the naughties, memes began to feature celebrities and ordinary people, like Charlie Bit My Finger and Leave Britney Alone. These memes came from viral videos or a media event.

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Other uses of memes

Memes are also used to promote certain political ideas or ideologies.

Websites such as Meme Generator can use the humor of memes to try and destroy the arguments of rival political movements.

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Origin of memes

The word meme was coined by the biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. He defined it as ideas that could replicate, evolve, and enter popular culture in a process similar to ...

Attention hacking

Several online communities focus on creating and spreading memes, so the idea becomes viral. These communities have become very influential.

Little is understood about the way memes spread or how they influence.

Generating memes

Researchers have gained some understanding of why some memes spread widely, while others quickly die away.

One component is to ensure new offspring are continuously produced. It suggests that if anybody wants to become more influential, they could set up a meme factory that produces large numbers of variants of other memes.

Persuasive Stories

Persuasive Stories

Content persuasive and memorable enough has the tendency to evoke the person to share it to others, has ethics, emotion, and logic. If the content is credible, has some emotional a...

Evoking Emotion

Studies on the ‘viral’ tendencies of articles showed that:

  • Positive messages were shared more often.
  • Articles evoking an emotional response to the reader fared well.
  • An exciting headline made a big difference.
  • Amusing stories of the same event or news performed better than the duller versions.

What Makes Content Go VIral

Content can go viral when one takes care of the following things:

  1. The emotional value of the content.
  2. Arousal of positivity or excitement in the reader.
  3. An insider culture, a social currency that is understood by a subset of people.
  4. A memory-inducing trigger, which helps one remember the core message.
  5. Practicality and usefulness of the information, making it shareworthy.
  6. Good quality content, packaged in a great story, making it compelling to view and share.

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Millennials are increasingly staying at home more often. Night outs, dinner parties, sporting events, and other outdoor activities are increasingly on the decline among these youngsters.

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Staying home more due to Technology

Great TV content and a whole lot of options on the internet like Netflix have contributed to the rising trend of millennials staying at home more.

New Economy Apps on the smartphone make it easier to order pizza, or anything else required to stock the fridge. It's also less risky to stay at home and one can have a more predictable and manageable kind of fun, while being in control.

Staying home for Self-care

The downtime that the millennials are craving more of is also related to self-care and recharging, away from the outside world.

They have countless new options of activities to do at home, be it facial care, journal writing or yoga practice.

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