Nowadays, memes are used in a wide range of situations. They can help us connect and feel like we belong, serve as conversation openers and even help us resolve a disagreement or make a point. Memes also help us relax while exploring and avoiding the news. They’re a cost-free kind of entertainment that’s always there. Even if we’re too busy for more time-consuming hobbies, memes are easy to make which allows them to reach a wide range of niche audiences. They’re such significant ‘bits’ of culture and usually quite humorous that they produce a viral piece of content. But what is the connection between memes and social change?
Some aspects of meme culture have caused ripples in our social fields, even outside the realms of the internet. After all, every meme has a creator who made it to spread a viral message, whether for pleasure or to persuade others.
What impact do memes have on society? How do social changes affect meme evolution?
Let’s have a look at this.
The Connection Between Memes and Social Change
Text or image memes were the first to be disseminated on the internet. The Dancing Baby meme, which first circulated over email in the mid-1990s, was one of the earliest online memes.
Images and texts, on the other hand, are no longer exclusive choices. The popularity of video memes is exceptionally high.
Every meme reflects a specific cultural context based on some level of information or opinion about the world. Some memes emerge in response to novels, music albums, or cultural events like the Academy Awards. Existing memes can also be a good starting point for creating new ones.
What Makes a Meme Viral?
One of the most appealing aspects of generating a viral meme is that there are no prerequisites. With a few clicks of a button, anyone can become a meme generator, which is why this hobby is so popular among teenagers and millennials.
To engage in meme culture, you don’t require any special technical knowledge. You only need a simple picture editor or video tool to make your meme. Meme production, unlike many other creative industries, is usually free.
While most memes are surreal, they frequently deal with real-life circumstances.
Popular meme subjects include relationship issues, parent-child conflicts, and poverty. Memes concerning high school and academic stress, as well as memes about work tiredness, are also popular.
Pros and Cons of The Connection Between Memes and Social Change
Meme culture reflects people’s concerns about the state of the world, making it simple for individuals to discuss shocking cases.
Memes can be a powerful coping mechanism. They provide us with means of expressing challenging ideas. They also create a sense of belonging. Sharing memes can help people feel less alone in their troubles.
However, there may be a disadvantage to using memes. It’s possible to lose interest in these issues. Memes have replaced authentic dialogues that could lead to solutions in some circumstances.
Memes as a Social Networking Tool
People can communicate with one another using memes. Knowing which memes to use can assist you in joining a group. They help in bringing together people who share similar interests.
Memes are an excellent way to build online popularity and gain fame. People can obtain additional followers by generating and re-blogging popular memes. Some memes impact the growth and visibility of online social organizations.
Memes’ Impact on Challenging Harmful Narratives
How can memes serve people of color and other minority groups while providing visibility?
Racist memes persist despite the cultural influence of people of color on meme culture. Sexist and homophobic memes are also widely spread. The remix-heavy nature of these memes, on the other hand, allows people to question the bias of their terms.
Women and teenage girls of color, for example, are routinely insulted in memes. However, because many of these women are part of the meme culture, they generate memes that challenge stereotypes. These words can unite people and serve as rallying points for optimism, and these healthy memes are a growing trend.
Meme culture also allows people to address potentially harmful societal trends or events. A meme also brings attention to a specific topic.
Memes Can be Harmful as well
Nonetheless, it’s crucial to remember that memes can be used for harassment and to spread hate speech and misinformation about various social groups.
Memes Have the Potential to Become Propaganda
In politics, memes are getting increasingly popular. What is it about memes that makes them such a powerful propaganda tool?
Memes, according to experts, are an efficient technique for spreading political ideas because of their simplicity, they are valid throughout the political spectrum for many ideas and groupings. Memes help provide straightforward answers to complex topics, which are more likely to be accepted.
Furthermore, memes generate an emotional response, mainly when using shock humor. It is one of the reasons why they are so appealing to hate organizations. The memes may seem amusing, but the devastation they wreak is genuine.
People Form Cliques When They See Memes
Another reason memes are gaining popularity in politics is the social cohesiveness they give.
If you don’t comprehend a meme, it’s most likely because you’re not a member of its target demographic. Making a relevant meme can help you create your social presence. You’re considered an outsider if you misuse a meme.
Memes have the potential to reinforce beliefs while discouraging critical thinking. As a result, they contribute to the polarization of online political debate.
The Monetization of Memes Will Continue
While most meme culture participants do so for free, some people profit financially from creating and modifying memes. This pattern is quite likely to persist.
E-commerce businesses regularly supply advertisements in video meme posts, local businesses, brands, and even media channels across social networks to work best with the algorithms that determine your content’s natural traction.
Resolving Questions About Meme Copyrights
Resolving monetization issues can also help with copyright issues. Brands can now benefit from memes, while the creators receive no payment.
Another reason for the popularity of copyright is that it safeguards intellectual property.
Considering the Connection Between Memes and Social Change in a Variety of Ways
Memes are growing more politicized, and corporations are increasingly using them. As a result, the meme culture has undergone significant transformations.
Simultaneously, people are becoming more conscious of how memes can get misappropriated. We no longer regard memes as harmless entertainment. We’re growing more aware of their social and political effects, for better or worse.
A Final Thought
Memes, like so many other facets of online culture, are easily misunderstood by those who aren’t familiar with them. Some people believe they are unimportant. Others believe memes are hazardous and destructive to our communication.
On the other hand, memes are a communication tool for various objectives. They can help bring about constructive societal changes but are sometimes also exploited to cause harm to others. It’s critical to establish a realistic understanding of memes’ potency as a communication medium, both today and in the future.
Authored by Afifa Maryam Siddiqui
Edited by Yara Fakhoury
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