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What Is a Meme?

What Is a Meme? A concept, behavior, or style is said to be a meme if it is passed on from one member of a culture to another through the process of imitation. Memes typically carry a symbolic meaning that is representative of a particular phenomenon or theme. A meme is a unit that carries cultural ideas, symbols, or practices and can be passed on from one person’s mind to another through imitation of writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other phenomena that can be imitated and have a theme that is similar to the one being imitated. Memes are considered by proponents of the concept to be cultural equivalents to genes due to the fact that they can self-replicate, can mutate, and can respond to selective pressures.

It is hypothesized by some that memes are contagious phenomena that might develop through the process of natural selection in a manner that is comparable to that of biological evolution. Memes are able to do this as a result of the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance. Each of these factors plays a role in determining how successful a meme is in reproducing itself. The behaviors that memes cause in their hosts allow them to spread through populations. Memes that reproduce at lower rates are more likely to become extinct, while others are more likely to endure, to spread, and to mutate, either for the better or for the worse. The success rate of a meme is directly proportional to its ability to replicate successfully, and some memes can replicate successfully even if they are detrimental to the health of the hosts they infect.

In the 1990s, a new academic discipline known as memetics emerged with the aim of analyzing the concepts behind memes as well as their transmission using an evolutionary framework. The idea that academic research can conduct an empirical investigation of memes has been called into question due to a number of different lines of attack. However, recent advances in neuroimaging may make it possible to conduct empirical research. The idea that one can meaningfully categorize culture in terms of discrete units is called into question by certain commentators working in the field of social sciences. These commentators are particularly critical of the biological nature of the theory’s underpinnings. Others have argued that this usage of the term is due to a misunderstanding of the initial proposal, and that this misunderstanding led to the use of the term.

Richard Dawkins is credited with coining the term “meme,” which was first used in his book “The Selfish Gene,” which was published in 1976. The position that Dawkins himself takes is not entirely clear. He praised N. K. Humphrey’s idea that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically,” and he proposed that we think of memes as “physically residing in the brain.” This was in response to Humphrey’s statement that “memes should be considered as living structures, not just metaphorically.” Despite the fact that Dawkins stated that his initial intentions were much more straightforward, he accepted Humphrey’s viewpoint and he supported Susan Blackmore’s 1999 project to provide a scientific theory of memes that was complete with predictions and empirical support.

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The Origin of Meme

Even though Richard Dawkins was the one who came up with the concept of a meme and developed the theory behind them, he never claimed that the idea was completely original, and there have been other expressions for concepts that are very similar in the past.

During Charles Darwin’s time, for example, people talked about the concept that ideas might be susceptible to the same evolutionary pressures as biological characteristics. This concept was brought up in the context of the evolution of biological traits. In the year 1880, T. H. Huxley made the assertion that “The fight for survival is present in the intellectual world to the same extent that it is in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is directly proportional to its ability to withstand the onslaught of opposition from other theories.”

Die Mneme was first published in 1904 by Richard Semon (which appeared in English in 1924 as The Mneme). There are some similarities between Richard Dawkins’ theory and Maurice Maeterlinck’s novel The Life of the White Ant (1926), which also makes use of the term “mneme.” In 1954, Kenneth Pike came up with the terms emic and etic, which are related to one another. By generalizing the linguistic units of phoneme, morpheme, grapheme, lexeme, and tagmeme (as outlined by Leonard Bloomfield), Pike was able to differentiate between insider and outsider perspectives of communicative behavior.

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Lifecycle of Meme

Memes, like genes, have varying degrees of the ability to replicate; successful memes persist and continue to spread, whereas unfit memes become stagnant and are eventually forgotten. Consequently, the meme pool selects those memes that have shown to be more successful at both replicating themselves and surviving.

To begin, memes require retention. The longer a meme remains in its hosts, the greater the likelihood that it will spread to other hosts. The longevity of a meme is increased whenever a host makes use of it. The most significant danger that a particular meme’s copy faces is the reuse of the neural space that is currently hosting that meme in order to host other memes. If a meme can extend the lives of its carriers, it will almost certainly do better in the long run. On the other hand, a meme that has the opposite effect and decreases the longevity of its hosts will typically die out more quickly. However, due to the fact that hosts eventually perish, retention alone is not enough to ensure the longevity of a meme; in addition, memes require transmission.

Information can be passed down from parent to offspring through the process of genetic replication, as well as horizontally from one living thing to another (through viruses and other means). Within a single generation of biological organisms, memes are capable of replicating either vertically or horizontally. They are also capable of remaining dormant for extended amounts of time.

Memes propagate themselves through the process of copying themselves from one nervous system to another, either through communication or imitation. Imitation typically involves a person copying the actions or mannerisms of another person that they have observed. Communication can take place either directly or indirectly, with memes passing from one person to another by way of a copy recorded in an inanimate source like a book or a musical score. Direct communication is more common. According to the theory put forward by Adam McNamara, memes can be divided into two distinct categories: internal and external (i-memes or e-memes).

Some observers have drawn parallels between the propagation of memes and the spread of infectious diseases. Memes are socially contagious imitations of ideas, and some examples of memes include fads, hysteria, copycat crimes, and copycat suicides. Copycat crimes and copycat suicides are also examples. Observers differentiate the contagious imitation of memes from phenomena that are instinctively contagious like yawning and laughing, which they consider to be innate behaviors rather than behaviors that are learned through social interaction.

Aaron Lynch identified seven overarching patterns of meme propagation, which he referred to as “thought contagion”:

The number of children a parent has: an idea that plays a role in determining the number of children a person has. Children are especially receptive to the ideas that are presented to them by their parents; consequently, ideas that directly or indirectly encourage a higher birth rate will replicate themselves at a higher rate than ideas that discourage higher birth rates.

Effectiveness of being a parent: an idea that, if implemented, would raise the percentage of children who would follow in their parents’ intellectual footsteps. One example of a practice that can be expected to have a higher rate of meme-replication is cultural separatism. This is due to the fact that the meme for separation creates a barrier that prevents individuals from being exposed to alternative points of view.

Proselytic: ideas are typically communicated to individuals other than one’s own children. Ideas that encourage the proselytism of a meme, as seen in many religious or political movements, can replicate memes horizontally through a given generation, causing them to spread more quickly than when they are passed down from parents to children. This phenomenon is seen in many religious or political movements.

Preservational: beliefs that have the power to persuade those who hold them to continue to hold them for a significant amount of time. Ideas that encourage longevity in their hosts, or that leave their hosts particularly resistant to abandoning or replacing these ideas, enhance the preservability of memes and afford protection from the competition or proselytism of other memes.

Adversative: ideas that have the effect of encouraging those who hold them to attack or sabotage competing ideas and/or those who hold them. When a meme encourages aggression against other memes, it may give its adversarial replication technique a competitive advantage in the process of meme transmission.

Cognitive: ideas that are regarded as being plausible by the majority of the population that comes into contact with them. Memes that are spread cognitively rely heavily on a cluster of other ideas and cognitive traits that are already widely held in the population. As a result, cognitively transmitted memes typically spread more passively than other forms of meme transmission. Memes that are passed along through cognitive processes are not considered to be self-replicating.

Motivational: ideas that people adopt because they perceive some self-interest in adopting them and consequently adopt them as a result. Motivationally transmitted memes do not, strictly speaking, self-propagate; however, this mode of transmission frequently takes place in conjunction with memes that have already self-replicated through the efficiency parental, proselytic, and preservational modes.

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Evolutionary influences on memes

Dawkins noted the three conditions that must exist for evolution to occur:

  • variation, or the introduction of new change to existing elements;
  • heredity or replication, or the capacity to create copies of elements;
  • differential “fitness”, or the opportunity for one element to be more or less suited to the environment than another.

It is important to note that Dawkins does not limit the application of evolution to merely organic components like genes. Rather, he emphasizes that the process of evolution occurs naturally whenever these conditions are met. He believes that memes also possess the properties necessary for evolution, and as a result, he views the evolution of memes not as merely an analogy to the evolution of genetics, but rather as a genuine phenomenon that is governed by the principles of natural selection. Dawkins made the observation that as different ideas are passed down from one generation to the next, they have the potential to either aid or hinder the survival of the people who obtain those ideas, as well as the continued existence of the ideas themselves. For instance, one culture may come up with their own one-of-a-kind designs and techniques for making tools, which gives them an advantage over another culture in terms of competition. Because of this, each tool-design functions in a manner that is somewhat analogous to that of a biological gene in that some populations have it while others do not, and the function of the meme has a direct impact on whether or not the design will be present in subsequent generations. In line with the idea that, according to the theory of evolution, organisms can be regarded as nothing more than “hosts” for the reproduction of genes, Dawkins contends that individuals can be regarded as “hosts” for the reproduction of memes. As a consequence of this, it is possible but not necessary for a successful meme to provide some sort of advantage to the host.

Memetic evolution, in contrast to genetic evolution, can exhibit characteristics consistent with both Darwinian and Lamarckian models of evolution. When a host strives to replicate a given meme through inference rather than by exactly copying it, this is an example of Lamarckian inheritance, and it is a characteristic that will be present in cultural memes. Consider the case of the transmission of a simple skill, like hammering a nail, which is a skill that a learner imitates from watching a demonstration without necessarily imitating every discrete movement that is modeled by the instructor in the demonstration, stroke for stroke. In this example, the learner imitates the skill by watching the demonstration. Susan Blackmore makes a distinction between the two modes of inheritance that have occurred throughout the process of the evolution of memes. She refers to the Darwinian mode as “copying the instructions,” while the Lamarckian mode is referred to as “copying the product.”

Clusters of memes, also known as memeplexes (also known as meme complexes or as memecomplexes), such as cultural or political doctrines and systems, may also play a part in the acceptance of new memes. Memecomplexes are also known as meme complexes. Memeplexes are collections of related memes that replicate and coadapt to one another. It is possible for memes to “piggyback” on the acceptance of successful meme complexes if they are able to find a place for themselves within the memeplex. As an illustration, John D. Gottsch talks about the transmission, mutation, and selection of religious memeplexes, as well as the theistic memes that are contained within them. The prohibition of aberrant sexual practices like incest, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, castration, and religious prostitution is one of the theistic memes that has been discussed. This may have increased the vertical transmission of the parent religious memeplex. This results in similar memes being included in the majority of religious memeplexes, and over time, these memes harden into a “set of dogmas” or a “inviolable canon.” Eventually, these dogmas make their way into secular law. The spreading of a taboo is another term that can be used to describe what is happening here.

What do you understand by Internet Meme

The term “Internet meme” refers to a concept that is passed on very quickly from one person to another through the medium of the Internet primarily for the purpose of humorous effect.

A concept, behavior, image, or style that is spread via the Internet, most frequently through social media platforms, is referred to as an Internet meme, though it is more commonly known simply as a meme (/mim/ MEEM). It’s possible that different communities on the internet have different definitions of what constitutes a meme, and that definition can shift over time. They used to be a concept or a catchphrase, but in recent years, the concept has expanded and become more multi-faceted, developing to include more complex structures such as challenges, GIFs, videos, and viral sensations.

Memes found on the internet are considered to be a part of the culture of the internet. They can travel from one person to another through news sources, social networks, blogs, or direct email. Instant communication through the use of the Internet makes it easier for information to spread through word of mouth, which in turn leads to trends and sensations that tend to spread rapidly. One such trend is known as planking, which involves lying down in public places. Sharing a photo of someone planking online draws attention to the trend and enables it to spread to a large number of people in a short amount of time. The rapid development of memes is also helped along by the proliferation of the internet.

Memes on the internet have been around since the early days of the internet itself, but they gained massive popularity when social media sites and message boards were first introduced. Traditionally, memes have followed a set pattern, such as the “Grumpy Cat” or “Bad-Luck Brian” memes that became popular in the early 2010s. Memes like these typically follow a formula. The person who came up with the idea for the meme is the one who communicates their meaning through the format. Over the course of the past two decades, internet memes have emerged as one of the most prominent forms of digital communication. They are used by regular people for the purpose of self-expression, by businesses for the purpose of advertising, by political groups to make points or convey messages to their followers, for the purpose of comedic expression, and even for the purpose of religious expression.

The appropriation of a portion of a larger culture is one of the defining characteristics of Internet memes. In particular, many memes use popular culture (especially in image macros of other forms of media), which can sometimes lead to issues with copyright laws. A new form of image macros known as dank memes has recently come into existence, and many contemporary memes feature elements that are absurd, illogical, or otherwise incoherent. The terms “meme” and “Internet meme” are used more loosely in colloquial usage; they have evolved into umbrella terms that can be applied to any piece of quickly consumed comedic content, regardless of whether or not it was necessarily intended to spread or evolve.

Internet memes are a prime example of how Dawkins’ theory of memes can be seen to operate in practice because of the speed with which they replicate current cultural events and become ingrained in the manner in which a particular era is characterized. The music video for “Gangnam Style” by South Korean pop star Psy, which became extremely popular in 2012, is the illustration that Limor Shifman uses to make her point. Shifman cites examples of how the meme mutated itself into the cultural sphere, mixing with other things going on at the time such as the 2012 U.S. presidential election, which led to the creation of Mitt Romney Style, a parody of the original Gangnam style, intended to be a jab at the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

Characteristics of Internet Meme

Internet memes are defined primarily by two characteristics: the ability to creatively reproduce materials and the presence of intertextuality. The term “creative reproduction” refers to “parodies, remixes, or mashups,” and some well-known examples of creative reproduction include “Hitler’s Downfall Parodies” and “Nyan Cat,” amongst other notable examples. Memes that combine different cultures can be used to illustrate intertextuality. For instance, a meme could combine a statement made by American politician Mitt Romney during a presidential debate in 2012 in which he used the phrase “binders full of women” with the Korean pop song “Gangnam Style” by superimposing the politician’s quote on a frame from Psy’s music video in which paper blows around him. The example of intertextuality gives new meaning to the paper that was blowing around Psy; the meme indexes intertextual practices in the political and cultural discourses of two different countries.

It has been hypothesized that there are two primary mechanisms at work in the propagation of Internet memes: mimicry and remix. The difference between remixing and mimicking a meme is that remixing involves modifying the original meme in some way, while mimicking involves recreating the meme in a manner that is different from the original. The findings of the research project titled Online Memes, Affinities, and Cultural Production indicate that the internet directly contributes some additional longevity to the lifespan of a meme.

There is no set template that all memes are required to adhere to. By superimposing text on top of photographs of people or animals, especially stock photographs, it is possible to turn these photographs into memes, as shown in the example of “Overly Attached Girlfriend.” Rage comics are a subcategory of memes that depict a series of human emotions and conclude with a satirical punchline; the sources for these memes typically come from webcomics. Rage comics are a form of internet humor. Some memes are nothing more than internet sensations, like the Keyboard Cat meme.

Here are images showing various internet meme

Internet Meme

Internet Meme

Internet Meme

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