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What Makes A Meme?

04/20/2011

I have been doing a deep dive into internet memes lately and how they get started/why they exist/how they spread virally etc.

Internet Meme (via Wiki):

An Internet meme is an idea that is propagated through the World Wide Web. The idea may take the form of a hyperlink, video, picture, website, hashtag, or just a word or phrase. The meme may spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, direct email, news sources, or other web-based services.

Forums, message boards, Yahoo groups, niche markets, social media, email, mobile text, sharing, tweets, all contribute to growing a meme.

Everyone knows the Dancing Baby and Star Wars kid memes. Did you ever see Leroy Jenkins (24million views)? Talk about a colossal FAIL. This one made me laugh so hard. It was just like that World of Warcraft South Park episode. The reactions from the other game players; they are so bummed. They are really reaching for straws…a Soul Stone to save the day…nice try!

Sites like Know Your Meme are a good resource. However, I kind of like exploring the web and coming across a meme organically on my own. The first time I ever saw Darkplace was on YouTube, and it was another surprising moment; WHAT WAS THIS? Very bizarre and from the U.K. Quite entertaining.

Did you know that Chocolate Rain (65million views) and Boxxy (30million+) all got their early start from the Chan sites? (Boxxy from Gaia)

What is the biggest online forum?

Gaia.

Feel out of touch? Who’s on Gaia? Only 23 million people. I almost signed up for Gaia, then halfway through the process I realized it was pretty much age inappropriate and really built on kids 9 – 14 or so. I didn’t know Gaia was so huge/influential on our popular culture. Did you?

I know there will be people that know that.

I didn’t…..So I continue to learn and research.

Very big news that Boxxy is back and things are about to get intense in that world. She is Queen to many (believe it or not) and Nemesis (troll) to the other half.

 4Chan , UniChan , 7Chan are all forums responsible for the many memes we know today. It’s where a meme gets its start, in the dregs of the internet. Many people have called 4Chan the “asshole” of the internet. Spend about two seconds there and you will see why (not to be taken as a recommendation).

I put “Boxxy” into quotes on YouTube and it returned over 5600 videos. From an original total of 3. Here’s an example Boxxy mash up.

Charlie The Unicorn.

The dramatic look Gopher …and here’s Gopher with a light saber.

What makes a meme?

Clearly humor is the single largest contributor.

Humor that people can share and engage in. Cuteness scores big too. It seems like every morning I jump online some “talking/laughing baby” has made the news from YouTube.  Remember these recent talking twins?

Are we all really that entertained by my “cat plays with string” videos? 

Speaks volumes about our popular culture.

One of the true findings from my research is thankfully…we all still have a funny bone!

Enjoy.

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