Friday, February 3, 2023

To Meme or Not to Meme: How Memes Shape Our Culture

by Lea Katrina P. Canizares | December 15, 2022

Memes are used in a staggering array of contexts today. They can act as conversation starters, assist you to resolve a problem, prove a point, and they can also help us connect and feel like we belong.

       Memes have long been a darling among internet users, but they are increasingly used in everyday interactions. They are commonplace, not just on 4Chan and 9GAG, but also inside jokes and threads. Memes also aid in leisure as we browse and put off doing things while trying to avoid reading upsetting news. They allow users to express themselves through skillfully remixed text, image, and video templates. 

       However, memes also have a serious aspect. They can cross cultural boundaries and create shared identities among individuals. They are a language in and of themselves. These shareable visual jokes can be effective vehicles for political subversion, societal influence, and even self-expression.

       Memes can also give a glimpse into the lives and perspectives of the generation they are intended for. The use of dark humor and the lightening of serious subjects through memes is a prevalent theme among younger generations. For them, memes serve as a coping strategy. It is not surprising that young people have learned to cope with negativity by using humor that explores darker subjects, some of which other people would find far too serious to be humorous.

       Earlier memes, in contrast, are lighter or more ludicrous, as evidenced by well-known older memes like the iconic “I Can Haz Cheezburger” cat. Gritty comedic relief has replaced broad pleasant humor in humor, reflecting the harm being done to young people’s mental health owing to a variety of circumstances.

       With online communication, language and communication have also shifted away from the vocal accompaniment. Although some younger generations may have trouble having in-person conversations, they are skilled at communicating online,  evidenced by their growing capacity to express themselves more fully without the usual limitations imposed by textual communication. The reason for this is that younger generations are more adept at understanding the subtleties of internet slang than they are at distinguishing between different voice tones and body language.

       Some aspects of meme culture have caused ripples in our actual social networks. After all, every meme has a creator who intended to post a viral message, whether for amusement or persuasion. Meme culture is becoming more nuanced as it spreads throughout society. Memes today make references to many different aspects of society and use a variety of media.

       Memes can reveal a lot about the worldview of the younger generations, but understanding them requires knowledge of the generational differences in memes. Memes today are very different from memes that were popular just a few years ago, demonstrating how quickly culture is changing.

       Memes may appear to some to be a lighthearted aspect of internet humor, but in reality, they reveal much more about our culture than just what young people find amusing. The creation of memes can provide insight into the true extent to which culture is changing around us.

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