How is Meme-y Made?
September 1, 2022 3:54 PM   Subscribe

To truly understand how the internet changed over time, it's crucial to pay attention to the culture that runs through it. Memes are symbols that provide a window into what is culturally significant during a given timeframe, acting as key indicators for how social media ecosystems work. By looking at the number of memes recorded for each platform by Know Your Meme annually, we can follow the rise and fall of different social media platforms and gauge their relative influence over digital culture at different moments in their history. Through memes, we can help to tell the story of the social internet and how it became what we see today. from Where Do Memes Come From? The Top Platforms From 2010-2022 [Know Your Meme]
posted by chavenet (24 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is really interesting. I'd have liked them to say more about the racist and far-right origins of some memes that have gone respectable now, particularly the Wojaks and Nordic Guy. I know people don't always mean ill when they use those two formats, but they always make me uneasy.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:12 PM on September 1 [8 favorites]


Some uBlock Origin filters to dial things down a bit:
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posted by genpfault at 4:36 PM on September 1 [10 favorites]


I vaguely recall some discussions years ago on Metafilter where some commenters really wanted to kill off Memetics as a discipline.
posted by ovvl at 4:54 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Someone should get an A+ for that dissertation
posted by gottabefunky at 4:59 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


Fascinating article but I wish the evolution of the definition of 'meme' had been addressed.
posted by Rash at 5:07 PM on September 1 [3 favorites]


The Endless Thread podcast had a series on memes that was really good. I can't find a place with all of them linked, but here's the first episode. Each of the 12 or so episodes looks into a single meme--some well known, others less well known--and goes into the history, cultural impact at the time, legacy, implications, etc.
posted by msbrauer at 6:01 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


how is meme-y formed
posted by egypturnash at 7:11 PM on September 1 [15 favorites]


It warms my heart to see 4chan consigned to cultural oblivion
posted by Merus at 10:03 PM on September 1 [9 favorites]


Now I want to know where hit songs come from in 2022.
posted by MetaGolem at 11:02 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


how is meme-y formed

There are certain things that just live in my head and make random appearances which cause me to just start laughing out loud at inopportune times, and this is one of them.
posted by Literaryhero at 2:51 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I miss LOL cats.
posted by freethefeet at 4:07 AM on September 2 [8 favorites]


> some commenters really wanted to kill off Memetics as a discipline.

You mean these people.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:28 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


We recently discovered the party game What Do You Meme? Somewhat like CaH, if you have a large enough group, it can get pretty hilarious. It’s not quite as nasty as CaH, but it has its moments.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:16 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


This is interesting, but I find the pre-2010 history even more interesting, given the relative difficulty of circulation and the more organic ways in which we would learn about memes (I'm using meme in the broader sense of "a self-contained piece of internet fluffery that suddenly everyone knows at once"). I've never been a forever-online type, but a number of things stick out.

I remember in probably 1999 being over a friend's house who said "oh you have to see this", booting up their bulky PC, and waiting a seeming eternity for the original Hampster [sic] Dance to load. In the early 00s, memes tended to come from Albino Black Sheep or Ebaums World -- things like "All Your Base Are Belong to Us", Yatta, and the Viking Kittens.

I guess what I'm saying is that *cough* kids today have things too easy with their TikToks and their immediate viral sensations. Back in my day, it was hard work to make something go viral!
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 6:46 AM on September 2 [8 favorites]


I found this article fascinating, but some part of me felt that without Mahir this is meaningless.
posted by Kattullus at 7:02 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


Mahir was well before 2010 -- that year also rings true for me as a turning point, where social media became the medium where online discourse occurred. Before then, you either participated in message boards, or you made your own website; the almighty algorithm started redirecting content around that 2010 - 2012 time period, causing a shift in how memes spread and how they're created. Although it seems that message-boardy sites -- 4chan, Reddit -- are still the primordial ooze a lot of memes come out of these days though.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:52 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


Friends sometimes poke fun at me for being too online, which I scoff at, because I know people who are much, much more online than me.

Then today I was listening to a feature on an Icelandic radio show where extremely online people discuss, analyze and explain the context for a currently popular meme.

They were discussing the corn kid meme and referred to schmoyoho as a musician.

I literally said out loud “you know nothing about schmoyoho”.

oh no
posted by Kattullus at 9:01 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]


... kill off Memetics as a discipline.
Wait, memetics is a discipline?

< goes off to look at Wikipedia link />

So, there was a journal and everything. But if there was ever any there there, beyond Dawkins' original proposal of the term, it never got enough weight to escape the fetters of academic discourse. Or did I miss something?
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 11:06 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Just wait until you start reading up on Anti-mimetics.
...
I may have said too much. You didn't remember anything.

(it is a legitimately excellent short-story series, one of the better bits of genre fiction I've read in a while)
posted by CrystalDave at 12:27 PM on September 2 [5 favorites]


This is really interesting. I'd have liked them to say more about the racist and far-right origins of some memes that have gone respectable now, particularly the Wojaks and Nordic Guy. I know people don't always mean ill when they use those two formats, but they always make me uneasy.

I don’t know why people think cultural hijacking only goes one way, though. The right-wing meme machine is effective foremost because of its ability to adapt popular templates - like Pepe or the original Wojak - to communicate their values. Not because nth generation parodies where the “trad wife” Wojak is in love with the “goth girl” Wojak are contaminated with subliminal right-wing messaging.
posted by atoxyl at 2:20 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


> So, there was a journal and everything. But if there was ever any there there, beyond Dawkins' original proposal of the term, it never got enough weight to escape the fetters of academic discourse. Or did I miss something?

If memetics were meaningful, it'd have bootstrapped to a point of prominence in academic and global discourse.

darmokandjaladattanagra.jpg, basically.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:01 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Weird to cover the ‘advice animals’ without any of the animals (like philosoraptor). Also kinda weird to leave out YTMND.

And in terms of how they spread now, platform-wise, things like Giphy are probably significant, and Discord too.

It would also be interesting to try to figure out when memes went from being largely self-referential internet culture about internet culture (prominently, MMOs), to pop culture, politics, sports and everything else. Presumably mirroring the Internet generally.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:42 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


I am always happy to be reminded that Know Your Meme exists, and this is a delightful read on the "evolution" of memes (grrr...still not thrilled with that term). The whole subject - creation, distribution, alterations - really is fascinating.

"It ain't much, but it's honest work." God, how I love that one.
posted by davidmsc at 8:51 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


> I know people don't always mean ill when they use those two formats, but they always make me uneasy.

I think they're thoroughly decoupled from their original usage and intent at this point.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:33 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


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