Memes are fantastic. There are few things that can make me laugh harder than a dank meme. I love ’em so much. But why do I love them? What makes memes so great? I pondered these questions the other day on a short walk in Daytona Beach, Florida. I think I found a good answer so let me lay it out and you can be the judge.
Notice this post is not about whether or not memes are fantastic; it’s a given that memes are definitely fantastic! Of course all memes are not created equal, that’s also a given. There are some poorly made memes, there are some obvious spelling errors that can ruin the whole thrust of specific memes, and there are just bad “meme forms” that lack couth and tact. But of course these rotten memes don’t spoil the whole bunch. Memes are fantastic so don’t knock ’em till you try ’em. But I digress.
Let’s get back to the point. Why are memes so fantastic? Memes are fantastic because they represent some of the best qualities of postmodernity. “Uh waaaaaahhhhhh? Park, I thought you totally hated postmodernism!”. Well, I hate a lot of aspects of postmodern culture and this weird “post-truth” ridiculousness that’s going on today. But just because there are very destructive and preposterous ideas/choices in postmodernism does not mean that there are no good aspects to be enjoyed. When it comes to cultural trends we need to be like the average KFC patron, “eat the meat, spit the bones”. So while we can and should spit the bones of “truth is relative”, “there is no truth”, “post-truth”, and the “death of the meta-narrative”, we can most certainly affirm the importance of the individual and their own personal experience, stories, and worth.
“What the heck does this have to do with memes, bro? I’m not here for a philosophy lecture.” Hold your horses, I’m getting to it. Memes represent the good of postmodernism in that memes give us all a chance to share our own unique experiences with others in a way that breeds unity.
What is a meme? A meme is a picture that’s been reinterpreted to tell a story, to make a point, to tell a joke, or welcome someone into our thoughts. We take a picture and write just a few short words above it or below it to give the new desired context there by reinterpreting the picture and then we share it on social media to share our subjective perspective. Don’t get hung up on the word “subjective”, I’m not saying subjectivism in and of itself is beneficial. Actually memes fly in the face of subjectivism. Memes only become popular if the reinterpreted subjective perspective placed on the meme can resinate with a large number of other people. Memes work because subjectivism doesn’t.
Memes appeal to the commonality of the human experience. We are all different, for sure, yet we can relate to one another in many different ways, ways that unite us all. Jerry Seinfeld, the Michael Jordan of comedy, made his whole career off expounding on the weird little intricacies we all experience. “What’s the deal with ___” is only funny because it strikes a cord with lots of us who’ve experienced the same feelings at one time or another. This is the same appeal that memes have. Because of memes we all get to be a Jerry Seinfeld in our own sphere of influence, though no where near as funny, let’s be honest, your memes aren’t thaaat good.
So let’s bring it all together in a nice run on sentence for clarity’s sake. Memes are so fantastic because they afford anyone with a computer or cell phone the opportunity to demonstrate their own unique perspective by reinterpreting a picture in order to relate to others through the common thread of humanity that links our experiences. Get out there and start creating some dank memes and be sure to share them with me!
Here are just a few of my favorites so far, some are my own creations, most are not.Enjoy.