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Memes 101: What they are & how to use them

Memes 101: What They Are & How to Use Them

The internet is a living thing. It changes, evolves and responds to live events. With technology constantly developing, one can blink and miss the current golden age of the latest online phenomenon. So if you suffered from a really long blink during the last decade, give or take, you might have missed the divine wonders that go by the name – “memes.”

Before we begin with this “everything you wanted to know about memes, but were too afraid to ask” guide, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding the pronunciation of this funny word. The word “meme” is pronounced with a long “e,” like the word “seem,” just with an “m” instead of the “s.” Afraid you won’t remember the right pronunciation and cause havoc mixed with embarrassment if the subject comes up during the next family dinner? Remember this sentence:

“Low self-esteem? Every night the same bad dream? No one wants to join your team? Don’t worry, it’s not extreme. Have a cup of ice cream and send someone you like a funny MEME.”

We could have just given you a link to a recording of someone saying the word, but where’s the fun in that? Not everything can be as easy as creating a website.

What are memes?

The original “meme” was a term coined by Richard Dawkins to describe how cultural information spreads. However, unless you’re wandering through the halls of the nearby sociology school, when someone mentions the word “meme,” they’re probably referring to a funny image or a video being shared on social media. The common use of the word “meme,” usually refers to the “internet meme,” a subset of the general meme concept.

Remember that thick book you used as a weapon during fights between you and your brother? Well, dictionaries have other purposes. One of them is to provide us with dry but informative definitions. Case in point:

what is a meme

Most common internet memes are image macros – photos with a bold caption written in Impact font. The text will usually be humorous or sarcastic. Aside from this familiar form, memes can also be a video, GIF, saying, an event or pretty much anything that can be copied or slightly changed and go viral across the web.

Why do we use them?

If you got this far, you probably understand what memes are, so the next question in line is, why do so many people use them around the world every day? Simply put, they are the internet’s inside jokes. They convey a feeling of familiarity and relevance, being a part of something bigger. The cultural knowledge you gained from years of watching television and browsing social media channels has now made it possible for you to understand and enjoy this joke. That’s the secret ingredient that turns memes from regular jokes to viral material.

There are few more reasons why memes are one of the go-to moves of the average social media user, as well as your more seasoned social media influencer:

  • They're eye-catching.

  • They enable you to express complex ideas through a simple concept by relying on the meme context, origin and common use.

  • They have a viral potential.

  • They push you to paint your creative thoughts in more humorous colors.

  • They're easy to create.

How to use memes

The most vital part of using memes is to understand the context of the content you’re sharing and to know how to leverage its full meaning. The best way to do so is by spending some quality time with your best pal Facebook, and start putting some work into the scrolling wheel. If your Facebook friends prefer a wild bingo night over sharing funny memes, you can always visit Know Your Meme. This website documents internet memes and serves as a knowledge hub about their origins. You can browse the most popular memes and check out common uses of each one.

Examples of the best memes

We can continue with more detailed descriptions of meme usage, but sometimes, it’s better to show the flying, yellow elephant than to talk about it. For this showcase, we decided to focus on image macros, so “Rickrolling,” “Be Like Bill,” “All Your Base Are Belong To Us,” “Spinning Dancer Illusion,” “Double Rainbow Guy” or “Dancing Baby” – we’re sorry, but don’t wait for an invitation to this party. Here are 10 examples of the web’s greatest, funniest and most popular image macro memes:

01. Bad Luck Brian

Bad Luck Brian Meme

02. First World Problems

First Word Problems Meme

03. (Captain Picard) Facepalm

Captain Picard Facepalm Meme

04. One Does Not Simply

One Does Not Simply Meme

05. Philosoraptor

Philosoraptor Meme

06. What if I Told You

What if I Told You Meme

07. Success Kid

Success Kid Meme

08. Condescending Wonka

Condescending Wonka Meme

09. Conspiracy Keanu

Conspiracy Keanu Meme

10. X, X Everywhere

X, X Everywhere Meme

How to create memes

Wondering how to create a meme by yourself? Well, you can sleep late and prepare the pancakes, because it’s easy like a Sunday morning. Meme generators are scattered all over the web like flyers on the sidewalk, just next to the guy who hands them out. They’re free, simple, accessible and they don’t require any kind of software installation. No need to waste time on choosing a font or trying to center the text – all of these preferences are already set.

Because we don’t want to exhaust your tired fingers with typing “Meme Generator” on Google, here are some great resources you should try:

  • – A meme generator by Imgur, the popular free image hosting platform. Straightforward and simple.

  • – Fast, clear and easy to use. Allows users to create “private” downloadable memes that won’t go online unless you decide to publish them.

The evolution of memes

Internet memes have evolved, hand in hand with the rise and transformation of the internet. From the Hamster dance meme of the mid-1990's, to the rise of TikTok today, memes have grown in popularity and evolved into almost an art form of their own.

Today memes encompass a range of styles and types from dank memes, to deep fried memes, to those inspired by surrealism. Some brands have even decided to get involved in the world of memetic marketing, which is using memes for marketing. Gucci did it as early as 2017 with their tfw gucci watch campaign which saw them using memes on Instagram as part of their marketing efforts. Love it or hate it, it generated a lot of interest and attention - which is what it's all about anyway, right?

What are memes FAQ

Why is a meme called a meme?

The word "meme" was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book "The Selfish Gene." Dawkins defined a meme as "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation." He argued that memes are similar to genes in that they can be copied and spread from person to person.

What is the main purpose of a meme?

What are the types of memes?

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