The Effect of Memes on Popular Culture

Memes are one of the greatest accidental inventions of all time. By some miraculous chance, Internet users are able to search and find over a million different memes of various backgrounds. Being that I am a millennial, I am very familiar with memes and how much of a major impact it has on popular culture. In Chapter 4 Cohen and Kenny eloquently says “some memes enter our culture in the form of slang or knowledge, such as the terms “bae”, selfie, or fail, and some enter our mind as something culturally relevant and unforgettable” page 109.  I found this to be extremely important because it is signifies how slang terms whether from online or while spoken, it somehow enters the ecosystem and we have to learn to incorporate it in each of our lives. No matter how old you are or wherever you are in the world, memes will touch your life.

Memes provide an opportunity to connect with people of all sort. To say that memes has not had any effect on popular culture is like saying global warming has had no effect on the world. Memes have become similar to emojis— you use it like anything else. Often times when I am texting my friend, we communicate by sending memes to one another to try and convey our emotions or just have a lost. Sometimes when I am texting the first thing that comes to mind is “OMG let me find a meme for that.” It is the easiest way for me to communicate. In happy moments, in sad moments, in moments of confusion, memes are the way for millennials to express themselves. Memes have absolutely affected every part of popular culture as well as our emotions. Sometimes when individuals see a meme they experience many different emotions such as joy, sadness, happiness, fear etc.

Another added bonus of memes is that it encourages participation and shareability. Memes have the ability to be shared across a wide range of platforms and on smartphones as well which is major. Memes encourage collaborative community while also cultivating a new form of discourse community— they are unlike traditional culture. It allows you to be part of a community and be able to contribute to the community. Many meme composers within the popular culture realm participate with memes on platforms such as weblogs, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat just to name a few. These platforms allow a user to interact with their friends and loved ones using memes and incorporating other multimodal features. The composer has the ability to create, remix, repackage, redistribute the content. Being a part of the content generating community allows for individualism and the composer has given a voice. The community has many affordances and it can add to the digital ecosystem.  With all good things comes the bad. Although you can create and redistribute the content you create, once it goes viral that’s it– you’ve have lost “ownership” of it, it becomes a product of the Internet. 

There is no doubt that memes have had a significant impact on our culture, our ways of knowing, the emotional self, how we see the world and how we interact with it. It is extremely important for content composers, content consumers to keep in mid the effects of memes and new digital literacies and what effects it will have on the population.