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What do you meme? Images with catch phrases become popular way to communicate

Ella Corbett, Staff Writer

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It’s time for Kermit to put down the tea and Arthur to unclench his fist, because memes are becoming one of the largest fads to ever hit the internet.

A “meme” is an image, video or set of texts that become popular and spread rapidly via the internet. Memes have become a part of most young people’s lives.

“I see memes everyday when I open up my social media [accounts],” junior Caroline Mode said. “ It’s something nice to look at during the day because they are the light of my life and it takes me away from all of the depression in the world. Memes are like babies. They are innocent and make you smile.”

Memes can even be a fun spin on response to people on social media or via texting.

“When I don’t know what to text someone, I’ll send a meme as an icebreaker. This is really helpful because it helps me keep a conversation going,” sophomore Rebbekkah Eller.

The term “meme” originated from evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins. Dawkins used the term to show how information can spread in his book, The Selfish Gene, which was published in 1976.

Dawkins created what is called “the Meme Theory.” This is when elements from different cultures catch on and are passed on in a non-genetic way. Examples Dawkins provided were catchphrases, fashion items and architectural designs.

Since Dawkins’s original discovery of the word, the meaning has shifted in a few ways. While memes still share information, it’s not as much about culture and human habits as it is  providing silly and laughable entertainment.

“Memes don’t really provide much information anymore, they’re mainly just about being funny and getting likes,” sophomore Lizzy Rotchford said.

Memes spread quicker than ever now due to social media. Because of the advance in technology, apps such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Tumblr help these memes gain popularity quickly. Many students use these apps every day, so since so many students are utilizing these apps and may be on them at the same time, memes can be sent at a rapid speed.

With memes being sent around so quickly, often times there can be memes that become an overnight sensation.

“Memes don’t live long, they typically live about a week. For example, the ‘do you know da wae’ memes lasted for a long grueling three weeks during February [of 2018],”  junior Hunter Duprey said.

Overtime, memes have become more offensive. In the beginning, memes were used more as a way to be silly or funny and were often harmless jokes.

Today, memes often feature more rude or offensive jokes. It is not uncommon to come across memes that make fun of the Holocaust or suicide or attack people’s personal views on religion and politics.

“Memes should be funny, but when people make them offensive then they’re no longer funny and people shouldn’t do that,” junior Chloe Roy said.

Now a very popular yet dangerous meme involves Tide Pods. Tide Pods are small pods of laundry detergent that have been making headlines in the meme culture as well as in the news.

The “Tide Pod Challenge,” which encourages somebody to bite into a Tide Pod, has inspired suicidal behavior and actions, making this meme dangerous to those who see or make it.

The challenge originated on Twitter and has been making headway ever since. Due to this meme, over 100 people have had to call poison control and have had to be hospitalized after eating a Tide Pod. The meme started out as a funny joke, but it has quickly turned into a serious matter.

“What’s the point of eating Tide-Pods when you can just eat French fries? They’re full of chemicals and can cause people to die. It’s not safe and not smart,” freshman Mikalee Gibbs said.

A few insensitive or dangerous memes shouldn’t spoil the idea of memes altogether. While there are some memes that can cause harm, there are plenty that are harmless fun.

“Memes are an art form. One does not simply understand the science of it,” Duprey said. “There are legendary memes such as ‘Bad Luck Brain,’ ‘Never Gonna Give You Up,’ ‘One Does Not Simply’ and ‘Pepe.’ The best of the best.”

Memes have become a large part of most teens and young adults lives in the last 10 or so years. They are used as a way of expression when one might just not have the words. Memes can even bring people together.

“I find them [memes] funny, they can also bring friends together by sharing them,” sophomore Joselyn Jimenez said. “I post memes on my SnapChat story often and people slide up and respond to them sometimes. You can form a bond with some people because they think memes are funny too.”

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What do you meme? Images with catch phrases become popular way to communicate