Every culture around the world has trends. Coming and going and coming again, these trends often work to define a culture and give it a face for the rest of the world to see.
For the Internet, those trends often take the form of memes. And, boy, are they a… GREAT face for displaying Internet culture.
Far from the traditional meaning of the word, Internet memes are, in essence, just popular links spread from person to person until they go ‘viral’ spreading across the Internet and garnering millions of views. Memes can be almost anything: parts of movies, videos of animals dancing around, catch-phrases taken out of context, even complete and utter gibberish that people simply find funny. Indeed, the primary role of a meme is to entertain, even if the entertainment value is lost to some.
How does a meme get started? Generally through the creativity or odd actions of one or more individuals. It takes very little to begin a meme other than one person spreading a link to another, and then another, and then another. Memes aren’t always an explainable phenomenon, just as clothing trends in the real world aren’t always explainable. That’s just what people happen to like at the time.
Nor are memes constant. They fall in and out of favor over time. Years ago, for example, the Internet was taken with a series of animutation videos which featured all manner of strange, mishmashed images put to songs – and, bizarrely, featuring constant references to Colin Mochrie, a popular Canadian comedian. Why did this become popular? Nobody knows, though the fad has more or less died out now, the movies still up as a reference to the good old days. Plenty of other memes have gone the same route, flaring and then dying out over time as their novelty wears off.
As with any trend, memes can be rejuvenated with a bit of tinkering. It’s quite common to see an old meme revived through some new, sometimes innovative changes by a fresh party. The meme isn’t likely to return to its old level of popularity, true, but it will garner fresh hits to bring the fad back a teensy bit.
Still confused on the concept of memes? That’s okay. They’re so varied and strange that it’s tough to lump them all into a single category. Consequently it’s best to just look at a bunch and see for yourself. Here’s a list to get you started on the more popular ones. Enjoy!