The Power of Memes

An example of a meme.

Source: Owl About Teaching

An example of a meme.

Maleah Fennessey, Staff Writer

Memes—some love them, some hate them, and some still have no idea what one is. A meme, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a quickly spread piece of culture or a behavior system, usually occurring through imitation. As proven, this makes it possible for any given thing to become a meme, such as a dance, a saying, or even a style of clothing.

It isn’t easy to ignore such an invasive, funny trend. Even the phones of those who don’t regularly view them will recommend memes. More people are turning to memes as fillers for empty time and sharing funny phrases with their friends. Their appearance certainly does make the Internet a happier place. “The thing about memes [is that] most of them are really funny and also really random,” eighth-grader Bria Singleton adds.

Consequently, memes are often thought of as nothing more than jokes. But scientists say that they mean more than just that. Some go as far as comparing the way memes are spread from person to person to how genes cause people to inherit certain features. In a way, this makes memes the genes of cultural development. So, as memes grow and change, our culture will, too. Based on the memes that are popular now, social scientists in the future might be able to discover what life was like in our present times.

Take, for example, some of the memes that are circulating today. Ranging from light-hearted, easy laughs like “woman yelling at a cat” and “doge”  to offensive ones about World War III and the coronavirus…what we search for and click on reveals more than we think. Memes about touchy subjects tell us what was on our minds at the time they were shared, and the kinds of memes we view most often might reflect our sense of humor.

Although not everyone views memes this analytically, many concerned people argue that they create problems. Most viewers understand that some memes can be used to cyberbully, so their claims are not false. Sometimes, though, this is done by accident.

“I think the thing about memes is… they can hurt people, but most of the time memes are meant for comedy purposes, so I don’t think they should be taken too seriously,” asserts Rohan Ramos, a seventh-grade student. Quite frankly, whether or not a meme will offend someone depends on their sense of humor.

So, the rundown on memes is an unusual one. Some still support that they’re funny and innocent, while others think they are capable of creating greater dilemmas. But it can be agreed that memes are flourishing in today’s society, and they won’t likely be going away anytime soon.