According to a Google trends report, searches for memes increased since 2009, peaking in 2016. But what does it all meme?
Who uses memes and why?
The simple answer is we all do. They make us laugh, they make fun reactions and they’re very useful for marketers.
Memes have become a language
There have long been numerous sites dedicated to memes and they dominate social media. From my observations as a decade-long Facebook user, images have become a language for subcultures. A recent phenomenon is the practice of ‘shit posting’ in response to real time events and pop culture trends.
Why are memes so effective?
Nothing catches your attention quite like an image. There’s nothing new about this, the use of pictures as language dates back to our earliest recorded history.
It makes sense that we are attracted to images and video on our screens rather than dull text. You can tell a great joke with some images and a short sentence or two. Of course, some memes are rather more insidious.
A few concerns regarding memes
Change is inevitable. Language changes, technology and our means of communication change. It goes without saying that some will twist and abuse these new forms of communication.
Far-right internet trolls like Q Anon have turned memes into a coded language of hatred, falsities and violence. The terrorist who attacked worshipers in two mosques in New Zealand was a regular on 4chan and 8chan, dens of hate and pedophilia.
Another worrying thing I’ve personally experienced is the effect memes have on young children. Deprived of any context, school children repeat nonsensical rubbish like “Hillary cries and Trump builds walls” with no idea of what it means.
I love the internet, I love the way it has brought us together. The fact I’m writing this blog is proof of how much I love the internet. That being said, there is a lot of absolute trash online.
Keep an eye on your kids Google searches and the content they watch on YouTube. Even with friends and family, if you see them being sucked in by hatred or conspiracy theories originating from memes, have a chat with them. Try and direct people to sites like Snopes and other reputable fact-checking sources. I enjoy a good meme as much as anyone else but I’m aware of the inherent danger of their misuse.