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It’s everywhere. 4chan. Reddit. Facebook. Tumblr. You name it.
What is it that makes it so easy and fast to do? It’s such an expedient thing. You get a funny picture of a squirrel or some white-washed black guy and put some funny observation that everyone can relate with. That’s what makes memes so spreadable. It’s something everyone can relate with. Everyone knows what it’s like to go to class late. Or be rejected by some girl. Or have your car break down. Forget about the little nuances, it’s ONLY about the nuances. It says something about how 2012 thinks. Of course there’s the speed at which is spreads; people can make observations on how connected our generation is through facebook, google, etc. I’m surprised there hasn’t been any sociological studies done on it. But it definitely points something out about the way that we operate. Everything is so varied, but at the central level, it has become homogenized. Everything’s the same. Every observation of life that you see in a meme; everyone can go “I know that feel bro.” So what defines this generation? It’s a mix of sarcasm, irony, but most of all, wit. All of it is wit. Everything is clever. No need to truly analyze it. You have a smirk right as soon as you hear the joke. It’s so easy to know about.
There is no build up for the joke; there is only the punchline. 

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About MarcusB

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12 Responses to Memes

  1. Actually, the absence of the buildup is the joke. The joke is: I’m smart enough to make anything funny.”

    The difference is in the irony, which we use today in the same way that nationalism or “being a man” was used before– it’s an applied philosophy used for self identification. When your identity is not invested in what’s going on– you don’t think of yourself as part of what’s happening, but see it from the outside, e.g. “I’m outside of politics” but still go through the daily motions of it– so on the one hand you’re disavowing it, on the other hand you still physically participate in it all– then you need something else to brand yourself: irony. So, for example, you watch rom-coms ironically. You don’t like cats, you like lolcats. You’re broadcasting yourself as above all this, smarter than it all.

    Which you may be, but the problem for the “ironic” generation is that even if you are above it, you are still participating in it– you still vote, you still watch rom-coms. You may think of yourself as The One but the Matrix still uses you as a battery.

    • donk says:

      Good observations, Alone, but I think the phenomena MarcusB is discussing here extend beyond detached irony. In fact, the image macro-style memes we’re discussing–or at least the ones that came to my mind–employ irony and sarcasm almost exclusively to enhance the observer’s experience of “I’ve done/thought this before, so I can relate, so it’s funny.” So the crafting of these jokes is basically participatory, not detached.

      If you’re making facebook memes about a funny thing that happened to you at Faber College, it’s not because you see yourself as above and beyond Faber College, it’s because you’re reaching desperately for people who had identical experiences. And if hundreds of Faber alumni are making the things… well, it’s hard to apply the “irony” brand at that point.

      I think if there’s any humorous form that could be related to these memes, it’s that of the old Soviet Bloc jokes about the corner shop being out of butter all the time–they’re a personal coping mechanism, but one that absolutely depends on being involved in a community.

      Maybe someone can give an example of an internet meme that defies this characterization?

    • Or says:

      “And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer, ‘Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?’ “

  2. Guy Fox says:

    Well done, MarcusB for boldly testing the new format. You’ve done a lot with few words, and if anyone cares, I reckon you could’ve done even more with more (he shouts at the moon, hoping Ed Harris/Pastabagel will hear him).

    As for the substance, the part about memes being spreadable because they use familiar themes, so forget about the nuances, except that it’s ONLY about the nuances, is kinda confusing. After trying to parse that a dozen different ways, I’m none the wiser, but it sounds important. Would love to hear you clarify.

    As for sociological studies on this sort of thing, check out Gabriella Coleman, and Rob Horning at the New Inquiry writes some really good blog-sized pieces of it. He’d actually be a great guest poster, if such a thing exists.

  3. gogo says:

    Recently I interested in popular (memes) past-ups – what people thinks I do/ what I realy do. Here are some observations: 1.We can find stereotypes not in what somebody thinks I do, but can find them in what peoples who made stuff thinks their momes, society, friends are. Momes are stupid cows watching telenovels, friends and society has gaze of envy and exploitation.
    2. Popular memes of that kind isn´t there to destroy stereotypes. For example … There is no fraction of society (=idiots), which automaticly seemes lawyers as heroes, or anything of that but lawyers wants to be automaticly seemed like that by some peoples, no matter that some other people automaticly means they are sluts. Thats why they need their friends, moms and society to be idiots who thinks they are ABCD, whithout doing anything to deserve such meaning about themself. At the end we can find photo of zombie which is actualy doing nothing.
    – Why the most unpopular profesion is unpopular? Not because you have to manipulate with trash, touch filthy stuff and so on, but because nobody thinks nothing about trashman. This profesion cant be related to any image. Actualy it´s not true – I can invent wity opposed images of trashman – but meme makers wants that to be true.
    4. There absolutly absent fathers view. Every past up has a photo of what my mum thinks I do, but no one has an of what my father thinks I do. Which means that father as symbolic figure doesn´t exist. ather is only that parent with penis and he has no special, characteristic meaning about nothing.

  4. TheCoconutChef says:

    It’s a mix of sarcasm, irony, but most of all, wit. All of it is wit.

    Or lack thereof. As you pointed out, meme have a universal quality to them, which is the same as saying as they are completely non-specific, non-context-related, which means that the person using doesn’t have to have one iota of humor in order to be able to use it. He can just repeat what he’s seen / heard and, depending how trendy this particular meme is, will score for x amount of meme-points.

    Which, I believe, is one of the main reason meme are so popular. They’re reliable and easy to use. It’s mass produced social interaction at the expanse of personal creativity and the present moment.

    The problem with this is that this gun only has so many bullet (at any given them, there’s only a certain amount of meme you can use) and once that spent then you’re on your own. Can you get to know the person in front of you? Can he/she get to know you? Is there something to know at all? Better drink fast.

    • JonnyVelocity says:

      “s you pointed out, meme have a universal quality to them, which is the same as saying as they are completely non-specific, non-context-related, which means that the person using doesn’t have to have one iota of humor in order to be able to use it.”

      But what if I’m quoting a meme ironically? You know, just to show that I’m up with the interwebs, but I’m not consumed by it… You see, I can walk that path and know the path at the same time.

      • Guy Fox says:

        Isn’t that exactly the attitude TLP mentioned above? You might consider yourself above the fray, but as long as you’re participating, you’re still feeding the monkey? How can you walk the path without perpetuating its existence?

      • BFG9000 says:

        There doesn’t seem to be a difference between the meme itself and the meta levels above it (as proved by the memetization of the meta exploration by successive captures). Maybe you could make an argument that it is not the same meme, but it feeds the same machine (the machine of memes in general). Anachronisms won’t help you either… they are usually another source of memes or forgotten. As MarcusB said, it most likely has to do with the speed at which language (but not content) is transmitted.

  5. gogo says:

    Problem with memes is not exactly that they are popular what else implicated by that. I thínk I agrre with TLP, i try to say it Žižek – like. Wee can easily reconstruct personal ideology from this kind of “jokes”. These jokes are not dirty jokes. If you laugh on dirty joke, you are dirty, but you dont mind. If you understand this kind of humor – You are …. – ideologicaly capable be …. . Kind of humor of memes is the same what we can find in sitcoms – if you are capable to uderstand humnor of Big bang theory, you are ideologicaly capable to uderstand Big bang theory. “Ideologicaly” means that it never will hapen but it can hapen to you under circumstances – what differ you from that kind of people who can´t understand such kind of humor, and it means, that there is no posibility to hapen understanding of nuclear physics to them. Esential question is – Who you are, when you are capable to understand this kind of humor. Laugh is here some kind of masturabation.

    • Guy Fox says:

      That sounds right, but the idea of ‘Big Bang Theory’ as pornography is deeply disturbing. :)

      • gogo says:

        Yes every sitcom is deeply disturbing as a pornography for your ideological masturbation, that is why they must mix synthetic laugh into it.