<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/advicedog.jpg”>Introducing one of the most outlandish, childish and plain silly aspects of online culture – the internet meme. For those of you not familiar with the term, a “meme” is much like an in-joke that gains popularity and establishes itself with a constant stream of derivatives.
There are an indeterminate amount of internet memes, and a considerable number of websites have sprung up over the years solely to preserve, propagate and generate more of what the online world considers comedy. A great deal of these often turn up in our own Geeky Fun section.
Some memes are much-loved characters amongst online communities worldwide, so what makes them so funny and why does the internet keep producing more and more?
Defining Internet Humour
An internet meme can be as simple as an image with a caption. Provided the concept stays the same between different versions, the fad is continued and the meme in turn grows in popularity and becomes a part of the internet’s culture.
Other examples include sole passages of text, websites (such as YTMND [Broken URL Removed]), photos, videos, poorly constructed homepages about ninjas….the list is endless.
The exact origin of the internet meme is a tough one to call, Many internet imageboards and messageboards act as the spawning ground for new memes, such as the infamous 4chan (you have been warned) British-based b3ta and the “goon army” of SomethingAwful.
One of the more recognisable fads of the last few years (that eventually went mainstream) has to have been LOLCats, which depicted cute fluffy cats and kittens accompanied by bad grammar and awful spelling. The meme originated years ago on 4chan, mainly on Saturdays which the community renamed to “Caturdays” and has pop-culture ties to the classic “Hang in there, Baby!” poster of the 1970’s.
There is also evidence of companies specifically targeting the internet meme as a way of viral marketing, much like the huge amount of internet gold that greeted the release of “Snakes on a Plane” in 2006. The film’s producers eventually re-shot 5 days worth of footage in the hope of living up to the internet hype that had been generated.
Many videos that have made it to cult status (and thus are now considered memes in their own right) have spawned a number of “internet celebrities” (and I use the term very loosely). Classic YouTube material like Tay Zonday’s Chocolate Rain (below) and Jay Maynard’s debut as The Tron Guy have seen them featured in the offline media, including a South Park episode that featured a collection of classic memes.
Now that the internet is older, there are an increasing amount of in-jokes to keep track of. Luckily, KnowYourMeme is the website to visit for a brief history on the subject. We’ve already got an article written by Justin dedicated to the site, and you can read that right here.
KnowYourMeme is an organised database of online funnies, which also keeps track of new memes and current trends online. Each meme that has been featured comes with a description and additional information surrounding the fad, as well as possible origins and a database of images attached.
If you’re taking a trip down memory lane then Wikipedia has a well-informed list of internet phenomena that is chock-full of memes, jokes and things that only really work online.
Making Your Own
If you want to join in the fun then you could always contribute to the web’s growing collection of memes. Most are created in image editing programs like Photoshop, The GIMP and even Paint (often intentionally Paint).
There are also a few websites that can help you on your way, and remove the need for any image editing on your part by creating them for you.
Easily the best source for quickly adding your own text to an already established meme, MemeGenerator breaks down currently active memes into tiers for your perusal.
The site is pretty straight-forward, find yourself a meme that you like and then add text as required via the form on the right hand side of the page. There’s hundreds of thousands of other examples already online, so it’s pretty easy to get side-tracked whilst browsing.
Long before the internet started having its fun, motivational posters adorned many office, study and garage walls for all to take inspiration from. Now they’re one of the longest-standing internet jokes, and their use transcends many different memes.
These are great even just for sharing with friends, and Motivator is the quickest way to make your own parody. Simply choose a picture from your hard drive, Flickr or from your Facebook account (requires Connect), add your message and fine-tune before clicking Create.
Instant motivational goodness.
Cultural fads pop up in every walk of life, but some only work on the internet. A startling amount of work and man hours have been collectively put into a plethora of concepts, jokes and characters that are now considered the bread and butter of internet comedy.
Be aware that the jokes are daring, some potentially offensive and others make little to no sense at all. Still, you might get a chuckle or two out of trying it for yourself.
Any favourite memes from years gone by? Are you willing to admit ownership to any? Culture or spam? Let us know what you think in the comments.