- What is a meme?
The definition of “meme” is actually something that was coined by evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins (more famously known as the jerk atheist). It essentially means a cultural phenomenon that is adapted among a group or a society that changes the dynamics quickly. While this is more used in terms of sociology, it was also applied to Internet memes to indicate something that got shared quickly and was based on a social idea or style that was influential in some way. Memes are images, videos, link, etc. that were once “stock photos” but now have a funny (or mean) caption that get shared thousands of times. Memes essentially are viral media that are consumed via social media platforms.
- Who makes memes?
Anyone with a computer or smartphone can make a meme. All you need is a photo and a way to create a caption. So basically, any meme you’ve seen online was probably made by an everyday Joe- not some computer expert who knows how to generate images or something! You can do it too!
- Why are there so many memes?
As stated before, memes are created by virtually anyone anywhere, and a lot of them are identical in terms of the stock image. Also, people create memes based on their own interests, so you can imagine that the memes keep multiplying by the thousands on a daily basis. With easy access to “stock photos,” easy creation websites and applications, and a general feeling of meme love on the Internet, it’s easy to see why there are so many out there.
- When did memes start?
While nobody really takes credit for creating “the first meme,” it’s believed that the whole meme culture really started in the late 90’s when blogging and forums really became popular. At the time, images and videos were the height of tech savviness, so people often spent a lot of time crafting images with captions. Then, when social media came to the forefront with MySpace, that made it a lot easier to find and share memes in many ways. Today, memes are so common place that we almost forget there was a time before!
- Can I use any picture to make a meme?
As long as you have the person or creator’s permission to create a meme from their image, you can make a meme from anything. However, you can’t just pluck a photo from someone’s Facebook and make a meme about it. You can’t take someone’s video and make it your own meme. You can’t take a photographer’s work and share it without giving credit where credit is due. Make sure you keep all of this in mind, because people have actually gotten sued over creative property rights, defamation (when you make fun of someone’s photo when you didn’t have permission to use it), and emotional damages (when you ruin someone’s life by making fun of their picture). Memes are funny, but they come with risk.