Memes are slowly becoming more and more popular in our current world and society. Why is that? Let’s start with a quick definition of a meme. Here is the definition of a meme according to Sociologist Richard Dawkins. A meme is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture." After understanding and accepting this, here is a few points that help explain why memes are becoming a growing trend.
1. They are quick and to the point.
Millennials, as a generation, are all about instant gratification. Think about how much social media with all of the likes, notifications, and event invitations that give people that quick hit of dopamine. The format of literally one or two lines of text with a picture exemplifies this.
2. A lot of them require very little mental work, using prior knowledge.
“Only 90’s kids will remember this” is a good example of this case. A lot of memes are created from old memories and knowledge and build upon them, which is why we find them funny and that it connects to us because they are relatable.
A lot of memes come from current events as well, which help that relatability factor.
3. They're ironic. (we looooove irony)
A lot of memes are products of self-deprecating humor. Mental health is a big problem for millennials and memes are an easy outlet for those who struggle with mental health to connected and in solidarity with other millennials.
4. There's literally a meme for everyone.
Sports memes, music memes, D1 bound memes, -problematic- aka racist/sexist memes, SJW memes, etc. You are all on the internet right now anyway so I don’t want to have to put them all here, you have Google.
See: UC Berkeley’s Edgy Memes for Edgy Teens Facebook group, the Trump Pepe, Donald Trump himself, the rest of the internet, Twitter and Tumblr, and all forms of social media for that matter.
5. It lets us talk about serious issues in a lighter manner.
This one hits a little bit harder than the others. Memes have been used to help ease the tension when it comes to controversial issues like gender, politics, and stress. People are generally uncomfortable to speak about these topics in serious spaces, but the degree of separation that is the internet eases this tension.
Of course, not everyone falls in this category of a millennial but it is a growing and evolving trend in internet culture that has lasting effects on our generations and the ones to come. There is also not very much empirical evidence surrounding memes, but these are just some of my thoughts and observations from being on the internet for way too long. I feel this is something that we should continue to study and analyze so that we can understand how much of an impact memes are having on our world and society.