The Birth of Hipster Ariel On February 2nd 2011, a young girl photoshopped a pair of Ray-Bans on Ariel, The title character from The Little Mermaid, and made it her Facebook profile picture. In a matter of days, the image spread across the internet. This meme was labeled “Hipster Ariel”. We are going to use this meme to explain the internet meme lifecycle.
The Six Phases of an Internet Meme 1. Resonance and Stimulation 2. I Can Play Too 3. Investment in Stream 4. Shifting Context 5. Curators 6. Memetic Residue
Phase 1: Resonance and Stimulation At a glance, this is just a picture. Looking at it under the lens of semiotics though, this picture is filled with different types of meaning.
Phase 1:Resonance and Stimulation Princess Disney Ray-Bans Movie Disdain Hipster reference one-two punch joke format All of these visual and verbal cues are loaded with prior meaning. At least one of these markers of meaning must stimulate or resonate with with a person in order for them to pay attention to it.
Phase 2: I can play too Participators can make. Participators can spread.Once an internet meme has someone’s interest, they can chooseto participate with it by adding content or sharing content.
Phase 2: I can play too adding content = social currency sharing content Charlie Brown is not in on the joke.Social currency allows people to let other know they are in onthe joke. There is nothing worse than not being in on a joke.
Phase 3: Investment in StreamPeople invest in internet memes two ways:1. They know that if they participate, the chance for others toparticipate increases too. More content = more entertainment.2. Sites that cater to meme creation have time influencers. Ifpeople don’t interact with a thread or image it falls to the back ofthe site or even off of it. Participating keeps entertainment alive.
Phase 4: Shifting ContextInternet memes collaborate with other memes to help each otherspread. By doing this they prolong each other’s lives and reachnew online communities.
Phase 5: CuratorsWhen enough people start spreading a meme, it can get pickedup by aggregators that further spread the meme. These siteshave helped propel many internet memes into pop culture.
Phase 6: Memetic ResidueOnce an internet meme, “Fail” has become We suspect “winning” is going to bea common expression. a piece of memetic residue that is left over from the Charlie Sheen meme. Memes continue until the last player decides to stop playing. For bigger internet memes, residue of the meme is left. This residue can become part of everyday culture. Sometimes the residue may take on a new life, independent of its origin.
Re so pop na te & ularit St y im Time ul at e Ic anIn pl ves ay to tm o en t in St re am Sh i fti ng Co nt ex t Recap: Internet Meme Phases Cu ra to rs M em et ic Re si du e