What is a meme, but a dirty little pile of secrets? See there you go, that was a meme right there. The above video you saw was none other than the “original” meme, All Your Base Are Belong to us. It stemmed from a TERRIBLE Translation from a really old game called Zero Wing, someone on the internet found it and voila: a meme was born.
Now, seriously, what is a meme? Philosopher/Scientist/Person Richard Dawkins was the first person ever to coin the term meme, really, in his book “The Selfish Gene.” I would not recommend reading it. It’s boring. Unlike memes. Anyway, he describes a meme as “conveying the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.” Wat? Alright, basically it’s a seemingly useless phrase or series of phrases that, due to transmission from one person to another, has become recognized.
Now, Brian, why are you telling me-
Before you go any further allow me to object and explain why I’m even telling you about memes. Because they’re on the internet. And the internet is inherently geeky, it WAS invented by geeks. The internet is SERIOUS BUSINESS. Ahem. Okay, ill stop memeing for a moment.
Lets look at a rather recent meme, for example. Rebecca Black’s God Awful/Awfully Wonderful song Friday.
A meme starts with one person finding something, like Friday. Then he shares that video with someone else, or more likely a message-board like, 4chan.org (You’ll find that most memes have their roots in 4chan). Soon, those people spread it to people they know, and suddenly 45,715,568 views.
That’s just the beginning of it.
With Friday it’s so broad you’ve got sub-memes.
Which seat can I take? A meme. Days of the week? Now a meme. Awkward Dancing Friend?
Well you get the point.
I find memes hilariously awesome myself. I have had entire conversations with my friends composed solely of memes.
One of the most important part of a meme, and I say this cautiously, is that a meme is created almost always accidentally. Almost, and I will get to that in a moment. Rebecca Black didn’t go into the music studio and say “I will make this song a meme.” No, someone stumbled upon it and it stuck. And that’s how most memes start.
Oh, cats are also a meme. Cats are cute. Here are some cats for your viewing pleasure.
Now, when a meme is started by someone TRYING to create a meme, thats when you get whats called a forced meme. What THIS boils down to is some guy on 4chan who posts something random OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL IT BECOMES A MEME.
Case in Point. Millhouse.
Let me be clear. Millhouse is NOT a meme. But (and this is where the forced meme comes from…and where it gets a wee bit Inception-y) Millhouse is NOT a meme…IS A MEME. Someone tried so hard to force Millhouse into the internet culture that people continually asserted that Millhouse was not a meme, and, lo and behold…A MEME IS BORN.
But, for the love of god, don’t force memes. No one likes it when you force memes.
Now, you may be asking me, where do I find out about the wonderful little packages of internet goodness.
http://www.knowyourmeme.com is a great place to start. You’ll find descriptions of a vast majority of the memes out there and their extended histories on there, and for the most part it’s safe for work and family so you can teach the younguns to set up us the bomb too.
Now lets delve into the seedier parts on the innanets.
http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com This is a meme wiki…written in a terrible, terrible, sarcacstic and highly offensive manner. So basically written by the people that start memes in the first place. Let me reiterate: THIS SITE IS HIGHLY OFFENSIVE. Now, if you can get past that, and you don’t mind a lot of political incorrectness, it’s kinda funny reading about these memes from the source in a kinda sick and twisted fashion.
Last, but certainly not least: the granddaddy of em all: http://www.4chan.org. This site will either be the MOST offensive site you go on, or rather mild. You’ll notice that it is divided into imageboards. It ranges from a board about Pokemon or Anime, to boards about Hardcore Porn. I think you can use your discretion here a little bit but for the love of god, keep kids off it. Often times, memes start here. /vg/ starts quite a few of them, /tg/ has had some in the past, but more than anything is the ever-present “Internet Hate Machine”
/b/. Random. Known in some parts as the A**hole of the internet. Both terrible and hilarious. I can recommend this to no one. Yes it is the birthplace of many a meme, but it is a terrible awful place. I’m not going to lie, for all it’s stigma, the other boards on 4chan (within reason) can actually be a nice community to share your interests and your thoughts anonymously. (/a/ for example has a bustling anime community) But /b/…just…try to stay away from there.
There ya go. Memetics 101.
tl;dr: Memes start when people say stuff and it catches on.
Brian Laurence Bishop
Recently reached memetic status on 4chan’s /co/ and /b/ boards. Yes, it’s a show designed for little girls. But you’ll find that the #1 audience is 18-24 YEAR OLD MALES. Why. Because it’s surprisingly funny and well written. No, it’s not for everyone, and yes, half of you are gonna look at me like I’m crazy for posting it. But, statistics don’t lie my friends. Ponies are epic.