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The Irony of the Meme

  1. Feb 2, 2012 #1
    Meme, as per Wiki:

    The irony of the meme is that the concept of the meme has, itself, spread from person to person, and all the rest, becoming, itself, a meme.

    I'm seeing the mutation and response to selective pressures in the "Internet Meme" phenomenon: a picture with a joke caption that has been posted on the internet is so funny it becomes circulated far and wide. Someone notices this and decides to refer to the phenomenon as an "Internet Meme". That label catches on, and is spread far and wide, becoming, itself, a meme.

    A huge number of people misunderstand, and think the term "Internet Meme" refers to any picture with a joke caption that is posted on the internet. They start generating such joke pictures and posting them on the internet labeling them as "internet memes" despite the fact they lack the sine qua non of a meme of already having been circulated far and wide.

    The latest authentic "Internet Meme" therefore, is the notion that the term "Internet Meme" means a picture with a funny caption posted on the internet.

    In the end, the concept of the meme annihilates itself by mutating into an embodyment of itself.

    I anticipate Jimmy Snyder having something to say about this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2012 #2


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    Jimmy is a nice name. Is that a meme?
  4. Feb 2, 2012 #3
    It's half a meme. Now you have to apply that caption to a picture that makes it funny.
  5. Feb 2, 2012 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    So using wiki as a credible information source, is a meme? :biggrin:
  6. Feb 2, 2012 #5
  7. Feb 2, 2012 #6


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    Holy moly...when I was at work today, I had this (nearly identical) thought!! That's really weird :eek:.

    I blame lolcats, btw.
  8. Feb 2, 2012 #7


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    I blame cupcats.

    Theyz bee mindcontrolerz!

  9. Feb 3, 2012 #8
    This actually started as an ironic joke. I am unsure how many people take it seriously. The funny thing was that at least one "[This] is now a Meme" joke became a meme. "Millhouse is a Meme" became common and more or less simultaneously "Millhouse is not a Meme" and then "Millhouse is not a Meme is a Meme".
  10. Feb 3, 2012 #9
    Wow, I missed all this. It's already in, like, the 5th generation of mutation, and I've just become aware of it. Who is Millhouse?
  11. Feb 3, 2012 #10
    Milhouse (one "L", my mistake) is Bart Simpson's nerdy sidekick. You would probably recognize him if you ever watched the Simpson's.

    Most of the internet memes, particularly the pictures, have gone through various image message boards. A lot of them are specific to that particular piece of the internet culture and you may not know them, or understand them if you have seen them, unless you have visited those boards. I have seen people post showing an obvious ignorance of what a "meme" is but they usually get sorted by way of flame pretty quickly.

    There are actually multiple "Meme Generator" sites. I wont link them since the material there is often not very family friendly. I always found it amusing.
  12. Feb 3, 2012 #11

    Char. Limit

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    Very few memes actually spread far beyond the range of the forum that they originated in. For example, I doubt that many people outside of Physics Forums have ever thought about the phrase "Jimmy is a nice name". Likewise, I'd also be willing to bet that not many of you guys have heard of the phrase "Spearman beats tank", a common meme on the CivFanatics board. The true memes are those phrases, images, or videos that spread far beyond where they originated. Sad to say that most of these come from the image board 4chan, but I'd be willing to bet that's true.

    EDIT: Although for PF, I really should have used the question "what's your favorite kind of fish?", a meme itself inspired by Monty Python, if I remember correctly.
  13. Feb 3, 2012 #12
    Yeah, I remember that character.

    This all strongly suggests people are now defining the word "meme" as "any 'inside joke' communicated on the internet."
  14. Feb 3, 2012 #13
    I think that Char is perhaps defining meme a bit too strictly. I don't believe the definition really includes any strict quantitative attributes. It simply muses on the propagation of information as being analogous to evolution. By that analogy the quantification of the spread of an idea does not define the meme so much as it indicates its level of "evolutionary" success.
  15. Feb 3, 2012 #14
    How far it has to spread to be a meme would depends on what you mean by "culture". A PF meme could be a meme here, though not one vis a vis internet culture, or American culture.
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