The Topoi: A Connection Among Discourse Communities

The readings for this post were heavy! Not because of the amount but solely on the complexity of the language and connections that need to be made. One word that stands out is “topoi”. Topoi, singularly topos, is a theme or connection piece. When tying this into the understanding of memes it all goes back to discourse communities. Memes are single ideas that together, connect entire discourse communities. Regardless of the chosen affinity, a well constructed meme “will be one that triggers the appropriate set of conceptual and emotional associations for a given audience within a given cultural context” (Wetherbee 2).

The meme comes from the Ancient Greek word mimeme which means “imitated thing” (Cohen & Kenny 86). The meme as described in Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, starts as a single idea or piece that crosses cultural and ideological barriers to connect single thought strands. These single ideas evolve into a world of strategic discourse.

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To take an independent case not examined in the texts, The Willy Wonka meme. This since still image is a topoi that paved the way for a funny image that covers the everyday thoughts and belief behind each meme that covers the internet. These memes encourage each person to contribute their individual ideas in a cultural context.

Another overlooked effect of the meme is the breakdown of language. In many of the memes circulating the internet, it is common to see “iz” in the place of “is” and other letter replacements.

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In the above meme, the first image shows the use of language in a way that fits the context of the idea while deconstructing the English language as many have come to know it. Shortened languages known as “txtspk” and “lolspeak” (Cohen&Kenny 92-93), contribute to language breakdown. While the shortened language becomes more convenient on the quick exchange of ideas, when switching back to basic communications there is some confusion.

I know I’m going off into different ideas but the do all tie back together. Going back to the topoi, this connector contributes to the interaction across social media platforms. The meme connects users for Facebook to Instagram and Instagram to Twitter. Sites such as Tumblr, Reddit, and individual blogs in WordPress are a part of a larger idea. To take the case of the “binder of women” comment made by presidential candidate Mitt Rodney. The meme launched the election into social media spotlight across platforms with a common agenda. The need to speak out against gender inequalities broke down political barriers and at the same time, used visual and textual ques based off of a single moment.

The moment when used correctly, can lead to the longevity of the meme. As it reaches across topics there are three questions that I have.

  1. How does the meme further restrict the political world?
  2. With the evolution of the meme, will language become a larger issue with further generations?
  3. Is multimodality effectively used in the design and evolution of the meme?

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