Know what I Meme?

The internet can be a mystifying place. And I don’t just mean the labyrinth-esque routes to websites, nor the complex jargon. No, I’m talking about all those memes out there.

What is a meme? Well, I’m glad you ask, because despite being what I had assumed was ‘hip’ to the internet lingo, I still only learned this term during the past year. To discover the definition for myself, I turned to faithful Wikipedia, just another internet creation that couldn’t live without. Wikipedia defined a meme (which they first told me is pronounced to rhyme with cream…good thing I had never actually had a chance to speak it aloud because I’m quite sure that I would not have pronounced it as such) as “ideas or beliefs that are transmitted from one person or group of people to another.” Vague, right? So I read on: “A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.” Still vague. Here I was, thinking that a meme would automatically be in reference to the internet– how foolish of me, living in the digital age, to assume such. In fact, the concept of a meme comes from the analogy that “as genes transmit biological information, memes can be said to transmit idea and belief information.” They are applicable throughout culture, including in spheres of religion, models of racism, and anthropological theories.

But to focus once more on the internet meme, this term is used to describe to describe concepts transmitted through the internet. Once more I had been hoping for a better explanation, but by coming across these indistinct interpretations I began to understand that the whole point was the memes weren’t as simple as they seemed. I was hoping for a specific definition that I could grasp and pass along, but the truth is that memes are all around us on the internet. By using sites such as blogs, social networking, and (my latest favorite) tumblr, we are constantly transmitting these memes. The internet is the society, and the memes are the culture.

To me, memes are best represented by the internet phenomenon. My internet-saavy suitemate will often show me YouTube videos or silly blogs that, despite obscure or non sequitur references, somehow gather a cult following. These are memes. But there’s more to them than just silly ways for hipsters to pass their time. Public relations, advertising, and marketing professionals have all taken advantage of using memes in viral marketing. Memes help create buz about a company, product, or service. They’re inexpensive and, if conducted properly, can become quite popular, especially with niche audiences. They’re also a great way to show creativity. Often the film industry will use memes to generate attention for movies.

For further information on memes, I highly suggest the website Know Your Meme. You will find yourself bombarded with hours of useless information and entertainment.




  1. Enlightening,
    I had heard of memes (and had always called them me-me’s), but all up until now i had no idea what they actually were.
    Granted that at the moment the void of nothingness which had been reserved within my meager brain to represent the whole of my knowledge on the subject has just neatly been replaced with something comparable to a grain of rice, i am nevertheless grateful for the enlightenment.
    But still quite bemused i must say,
    Thanks for the info,

  2. Meme this, I got here by destiny and faith, because a meme thing caught my eye and I was so amaze by the knowledge and information that kept me reading. So I’m commenting here, thanks for the sharing, I liked how you ended the article or post by saying useless and entertaining.
    Kisses & Good Luck

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  4. First off: Thank you for the pronunciation help. My first stab sounded more like a nickname for a Mommy uttered by a baby. I would have sounded like an idiot sharing that in person.


    Second: I think I need to thank you in advance for the hours of fun I’m about to embark upon scouring the “Know your Meme” website.

  5. I remember Alice Walker named one of her characters “Meme” with the French meaning of ‘same’ or ‘like others.’ This character was to represent all women in abusive situations. In some ways I see some similarities but I could be all wrong as well. Still, very interesting.

  6. Memes can be thought of as cultural ‘genes.’
    The concept originated and was popularized by Richard Dawkins and I think of them as thought-viruses.
    (in that a single meme is a simplest unit of culture, but they spread from one to another, transform and adapt,…and often have a high die-off rate)
    Discussion could be had as to how memes and karma are alike and if emotions are memes. That is, more than a joke being a meme, is joy or levity a meme? (Jewish humor?)
    Notably, Dawkins believes that just as parasites can spread from host to host to their benefit but to the host’s detriment, so too do some religious creeds and practices propagate themselves to the loss of individuals and cultures.
    Oh, and cats can has cheeseburgers!

  7. I also just recently learned how to pronounce the word correctly and glad I never had to say it in the presence of other people. I used to pronounce it “mi-mi”. I participate in communities that have weekly writing prompts, and some of those communities call their writing prompts memes. I didn’t know there’s a more general definition for the term, and that it’s not confined to the Internet.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! 🙂

  8. if you ask the internet itself (either via, or 4chan) a meme is more like an inside joke, like memebase is a whole site dedicated to memes, same with knowyourmeme, although knowyourmeme is more like an educational site about it, if you want to learn more about specific memes according to the internet, i suggest you go there,

  9. interesting post–I’ve been seeing the “memetastic” award going around…and hadn’t thought to delve much further into it than that–
    have you ever heard of the “100the monkey” phenomenon? This reminds me of that.
    great post! And, I love your theme–it’s really quite lovely.

  10. Thanks for giving us the tip on how to pronounce the word. Sounds nicer said that way. What a profound thought it conveys and what a lot it can accomplish, but one must be careful how one uses this knowledge now that we know what it is capable of doing.

  11. If a meme is the sum total, or at least basic part of some more grand fundamental idea of cultural influence, than nothing is every truly individual. But when you think about it, mankind has only ever imagined or created with in the realm or scope of what he can already sense or contemplate; even the most abstract art is composed of color and space that most people can observe or conceptualize.

    To me, memetics is just biologists imposing their trade on the humanities; gotta stay relevant.

  12. Insightful! I am appreciative of being educated about “meme” and “master meme”. Admittedly so, I was a bit confused as I use to call my paternal grandmother Meme. Big difference.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  13. I have participated in a few meme’s. I alway thought they were pronounced me-me. I did Skywatch Friday, lots of people do that one, you put up a picture of a sky shot. I have done Watery Wednesday, a picture of water. (I did that one for a long time.) After a while I quit. There is one you do pictures of Red, and one you do pictures of yellow. There are flower ones and writing ones. I have tried all the above, but I eventually do tire of them. Right now I am doing the photo challenge Word Press started up, it is weekly.

  14. I agree that meme can also be de-constructed, in many blogs, to Me!Me! with little interesting beyond that.

    It seems like an elegant way to describe a sort of intellectual peer pressure — once we’re all talking about X, then, de facto, it’s THE topic we’re all supposed to care about and talk about.

    As you study in college, certainly PR, you may hear the words “pack journalism” — which is an old school, real world equivalent. Once someone big, like the NYT, declares something”news” (a totally subjective decision in some cases), everyone else rushes to validate that choice and reality consensus ensues. Sad.

    I say this as a 30-year career journalist…

  15. You don’t meme a meme, a meme meme’s you.

    Like ideas. Time doesn’t exist, as explained by ol’ Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity. Memes — ideas — are like bacteria. They want to exist. Get caught in *our* ‘time.’ When they do, they are a life form of their own — their ecosystem the neural networks of our brains. Trippy stuff because of how our culture sees itself revolving around the Sun. But I think the Greeks had this down, giving the Muses authority to birth the meme. Anyway, thanks for the read. Always nice to here memes discussed. I read “The Selfish Gene” in uni and have been fascinated watching the meme as a meme, you know what I meme?

  16. Pingback: Meme Sites Are Spreading Cultivating Cultural Information Mind To Mind | Internet Billboards

  17. Can I simply say what a relief to discover somebody that really knows what they are talking about over the internet. You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people really need to look at this and understand this side of the story. It’s surprising you’re not more popular since you most certainly have the gift.

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