Memes are the building blocks of our culture

Description of Technology:
An Internet meme is an idea that originates on Internet.  This idea can take the form of a: hyperlink, video, picture, website, hashtag, word, phrase or comic strip.  Social networks, blogs, email, news, or other web services spread the meme from individual to individual.

An Internet meme is like a gene.  It has the opportunity to stay the same of evolve over time.  It can do this by chance, through commentary, imitations, parody or by incorporating news accounts about itself (  Internet memes evolve and spread very quickly.  Sometimes a meme can gain worldwide popularity and then die over night.  Memes are spontaneous.  There is no rhyme or reason to why they began and end.  Due to the spontaneity of a memes life, researchers have began to try and model how they began, evolve and die.  Memes are often used in viral marketing and mass advertising because they are almost costless.

This viral video is an example of how Blendtec used a relatively simple and free way to advertise their product.  This video soon became a meme and spread like wildfire over the Internet.  Due to this one video, stocks soared and their profit sky rocketed.  The company then started a channel on YouTube with different videos.

Some companies use viral marketing videos to cover up mishaps.  This video is an example of Honda trying to launch viral marketing videos after they had a few problems.

The best and most engaging Internet memes spread quickly (Hodge).  They often reach a mythical status and become inside jokes for those that are literate in the Internet world.  Sometimes Internet memes are endorsed by “real” media sources.  This is another way in which Internet memes spread quickly (Hodge).  Programs like Anderson Cooper, E! Entertainment tonight and even the Today Show will showcase Internet memes and viral videos.  Isn’t that how we all know about Rebecca Black?

History of the Technology:

Richard Dawkins first coined the term “meme” in his 1976 bestseller The Selfish Gene (Hodge).  Memes come from the word memetics.  Memetics is similar to genetics.  Memes are the building blocks of our culture.  Memetics is the approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer (Wikipedia).  Therefore, a meme is very similar to a gene.  A meme is a “unit of culture”.  It is hosted by one or more individual minds and can reproduce itself from one mind to another (Wikipedia).  A meme will succeed based on the contribution and effectiveness its host.  When referring to an Internet meme it is best to use the term teme.  Teme means technological meme.  This is a better way to classify Internet memes and make them a distinct category of memes.

The definition for “meme” is very consistent, but that is a debate about whether it is a science, philosophy or just a part of cultural studies (Hodge)?  But by discussing the topic about memetics, even to question what it is, you spread it.  This makes memetics itself become a meme (Hodge).  How convenient.

There is no reason for this technology.  It just exists.  The first version of an Internet meme can be traced back to the advent of the Internet.  The Internet was made for rapid and quick spread of information from person to person.  The first Internet meme that you may remember could very well be the Hamster Dance.  When the Internet was first becoming popular there were many odd memes that were being spread.  Nowadays the Internet is spreading memes that are entertaining along with memes that are important.  Recently the meme #JAN25 became very important.  This meme became the meme for the Egyptian uprising.  On social networks memes can become popular in a matter of seconds.  #JAN25 has a very important place in history.  This is one of the first memes that will go down in the history books as having a significant cultural impact on history.  Information about the Egyptian uprising was shared on Twitter under the hash-tag of #JAN25.  As long as you included this hash-tag in your post with relevant information is would then be shared on the #JAN25 time-line.  This term became an Internet meme that people, governments and news sites used to find out information about the uprising.  Another Internet meme that became popular overnight was #WINNING.  Thanks to Charlie Sheen and his crazy antics, the term #WINNING became an overnight fade.  People started to sport shirts, posted hash-tags and used the phrase until our ears fell off.

This technology has evolved very quickly in the last two decades. People really enjoy Internet memes because they usually have a comic aspect to it.  Recently we have been able to see how serious Internet memes can emerge.  Internet memes were born almost miraculously.  Now they are becoming a “science” or a “philosophy” that companies are trying to tame.  However, the beauty of an Internet meme, or a meme in general is that they are spontaneous!  Will memes ever be tamed?  We will have to wait and find out.

Impact of the Technology Over Time:

Internet memes are a type of technology.  Memes originated as early as man, they are just ideas that are carried from one to another.  By having memes emerge onto the Internet, memes can spread as fast as fiber optics allowInternet memes lead to a division of an Internet culture and the rest of the world.  Understanding and interacting with Internet memes is proof of membership of specific subcultures.  It is a type of literacy. Internet memes have divided society and cultures.  If you do not have access to a computer, then there is a good chance that you will not understand what an Internet meme.  If you live in a country that does not even know what the Internet is, then you will not know what an Internet meme is.  You can even be an avid user of the Internet and never know where to find or learn about Internet memes.  Being literate in Internet memes is a skill, it is almost a refined Internet language.  4CHAN and OhInternet are two breeding grounds for Internet memes.  These are two sites where “Internet nerds” hangout and essentially create memes.  These memes are then spread onto other social networks like: YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.  And this is how Internet memes are spread.  There have been a few social changes that have come about with the birth of Internet memes.  Inside jokes are one of the biggest changes that have occurred.  A lot of Internet memes are still hidden deep within the Internet.  There are different Internet memes for different groups of people.  But some memes can transcend borders: LOLCATS!  Internet memes have created different types of online communities.  It has been very confusing for researchers to understand this, but that’s because researchers can’t take things for what they are worth. 

Internet memes have even created a type of new literacy.  If you don’t know what an Internet meme is, then you might as well read it like a hieroglyph.  Example:

Troll Face:  This Internet meme is one that is not common with most people, but it is used everywhere on Internet breeding ground.

Internet memes have transformed the way that people communicate with one another.  Now people can refer to images, video and tag-lines to understand what one is talking about.
An Internet phenomenon or a meme is an image, video, phrase or simply an idea that spreads from one person to another seemingly for no logical reason at all. When people see a meme, no matter how silly it usually is, they find it amusing for one reason or other and forward it to their friends; soon millions of people know about it thanks to how fast the information can spread online and the viral effect.

Top 10 Internet Memes of All Time


Internet memes have become a language.  Some people on the Internet speak in a language called leet. Leet has become a language on the Internet because it, itself has become an Internet meme.  Memes as well have become a language.  It is interesting to thing that if you’ve never seen a meme before, then you’ll have no idea what it is or what it means.  Memes often require people to search for their meaning or where they originated. 



Other Effects
Internet memes have birthed new forms of social media and new uses for social media as well. 

  • Storify
  • Qraite
  • #
  • Viral Marketing



 Ethical/Moral Implications of the Technology
I believe that this technology is generally good thing because it usually just for entertainment.  In the case of #JAN25, it was a great thing.  However, a lot of people cannot access Internet memes because a lot of the world does not have the Internet.  This further stratifies the gap between countries and people.  I believe that there are many uses for Internet memes and that it can become a great tool in the future for different types of movements, that is of course as long as we always have full use of the Internet (Sorry China).  I believe that the technology of Internent memes is only bad when it is used to harass people or trend inappropriate memes..

Works Cited

Karl Hodge (August 10, 2000). “It’s all in the memes”. The Guardian.,12996,923157,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-05.