Meme – a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.
(According to dictionary.reference.com)
Memes have been around for over 25 years, but have only recently become a hot trend on the Internet. Richard Dawkins from the University of Oxford created the term in his book about human evolution and how fast things travel from person to person. (Blackmore) Memes have in fact been around longer than the Internet through forms like chain mail. The importance of Web 2.0 in the evolution of memes on the internet is that now, people with little to no computer knowledge are able to create these memes. There is nothing stopping the average person from trying to create a famous meme on the internet. (Currents in Communication)
Some examples of famous memes range from humorous interpretations of people reactions like Nicholas Cage (see “You Don’t Say?” meme) and Neil deGrasse Tyson (see “Watch out” meme), to captions on photos, to drawings in self-made comedy strips (see “Trollface” and “Forever Alone” memes). Memes like these became popular because of their use on the internet, and their application as a humorous reaction to many different scenarios that appear on social media like Tumblr or Facebook, as well as meme sites like Cheezburger.
The biggest thing that a meme needs to become famous and very popular is humor. All of the memes that I have seen are humorous, and that is why they get shared from person to person. In my attempts to create a famous meme, I took one of the most known pictures for memes and put a caption on it that I thought was funny. After posting it to Facebook, it did not receive the fame that I was hoping for. After an astounding zero likes on the picture, I realized that it isn’t as easy as it looks to create a meme that rapidly spreads around the internet. (Nemia)
When I attempted to create a meme, in the form of a humorous vine, I drew my inspiration from memes based on the crime drama “CSI: Miami”, wherein puns are mixed with one of the main characters, Horatio Cain’s, signature action of putting his sunglasses on while saying a witty line (see examples here and here). Not one to post on social media or make vines for that matter, it came as no surprise to me that the combined number of likes that I received on my meme from both Twitter and Vine could be counted on one hand. (Franceschelli)