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What's in a meme?

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1.Title 2. Memes are an interesting mode of representation in the digital age. 3. Memes were first described as “ideas that are passed from host to carrier in a similar manner to genes -- replicating, mutating and occasionally going extinct.” (Richard Dawkins in Steve Kolowich's http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/02/16/campus-themed-internet-memes-go-viral) 4. But today, memes refer to “ideas that spread through populations via the Web. They can present as videos, Twitter hash tags, and cat photos with misspelled captions.” (Steve Kolowich http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/02/16/campus-themed-internet-memes-go-viral) 5. Memes are unique in that they function as platforms for 6.Creators, 7.Commentators, 8. and Communities. 9. It is easy to actively participate in their creation, as well as their dissemination. 10. “We are living in a digital world that attaches deep value to the capacity to share, and to laugh together at almost anything.” (Tom Chatfield http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120222-cats-memes-and-internet-schemes/2) 11. While memes can seem mundane in content, 12. they are valuable in bringing people together. 12. However, they can also function as a forum for critical thought. 13. It is “encoded into the very nature of memes that they are both popular and populist; easy to create, copy and disseminate; and very difficult to filter out or shut down.” (Tom Chatfield http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120222-cats-memes-and-internet-schemes/2) 14. They are a form of media that is difficult to ignore. 15. This means that memes are an ideal place to talk about current events and social issues. 16. Viral videos such as Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” attempt to use the meme as a way to spread political awareness, while parodies such as “Sh*t Girls Say” present issues of feminism. 17. However, the viral video tends to be more short-lived than the image meme, 18. which are continually updated to reflect changing trends and ideas. 19. The inclusive nature of the meme gives it value, as a form of “social currency” (Jonah Berger http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonah-berger/virals-secret-formula_b_3052685.html) 20. “People talk about things that make them look good. Sharp and in-the-know. Smart and funny rather than behind the times.” (Jonah Berger http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonah-berger/virals-secret-formula_b_3052685.html) 21. Memes can provide a mixture of entertainment and education. 22.Whether the content is something we hate together, 23. Laugh about together, 24. Or respond critically together, 25. Memes provide the personal and social platform that offers inclusivity.

Published in: Entertainment & Humor
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