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The History Of The Meme [INFOGRAPHIC]

First things first, let’s get the pronunciation of the word ‘meme’ correct.” 

As is predictable with a term that’s inherently digitally-based, the pronunciation can be easy to confuse. Phonetically sounded out as ‘m-eem’, this seemingly simple creation is often the cause of tears down our cheeks and stitches in our sides.

Memes can be an idea, behaviour or style, and they spread from person to person within a culture. They come in the form of an image, animated gif, hyperlink, video, picture, website, or hashtag. Perhaps you’ve come across doge, soon, or *tips fedora* and had a little giggle to yourself. You may have taken a screenshot of a particularly funny meme and sent it to a friend, or you might have even shared it on social media. Maybe you tried to go that extra mile, and make a popular meme all by yourself.

Whichever way you look at it, memes indeed have the ability to be an uplifting way to bring people together – and to pull them apart. Like any cultural practice, memes have the power to segregate groups and to poke fun (It’s a brave man who dares to wear a fedora in 2016). Often humorous and sometimes shocking, memes are a true demonstration of the modern power of virality (we desperately want a Shiba puppy).

The prevalence of social media via the internet means that, if you so wish, your interests can constantly be on display. Memes are just another way to utilise these platforms to express yourself digitally. This tendency for sharing means memes undeniably exhibit a bandwagon effect. For instance, the more shares a meme has, the more likely it is to be read and then shared again. Like a rolling snowball gathering mass, a successful meme knows no bounds. This constant penchant for sharing also means that memes are fundamentally ever-changing – if content is shared but does not evolve, it is viral content, not a meme. Thus, social media and memes share a symbiotic mutualistic relationship; that is, they exist simultaneously, side-by-side, benefitting one another and helping the other grow.

Overwhelmed? Let us break it down for you with this helpful timeline.

The History Of The Meme | Digital Next

Never again pronounce ‘meme’ incorrectly!” 

Never again be caught out when your friends say internet phrases that you’ve never quite understood! Bookmark this article if you need to! To your credit or your embarrassment, you can now casually drop that the term was created in 1976, or that it was redefined in 2009. Draw inspiration from your mental bank of the pioneering memes, or the most currently popular. Now go forth with your freshly acquired internet knowledge! Go forth and digitally prosper.

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