Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Meme Spreadability

Posted by emilyfalicaa on February 2, 2017

I find myself guilty of being a meme queen. I regularly enjoy classics like Kermit the frog with his tea or the most recent political meme. Memes are a sweet relief in my Tumblr feed of sad news stories. If you disagree you can cash me outside how bout that (my current favorite meme of course)? My love for this viral humor begs the questions, why in the world do we find this so funny and why does it spread to so many people? While I thought it was because of a lack of better things to post, the second half of Spreadable Media: Why Media Spreads and its virus comparison/explanation drawn from Douglas Rushkoff’s Media Virus. The idea is that, just like a virus, memes attach to a human and spread through them and infect them. Then that person infects or spreads it to the next person. Just like the flu would. But instead of throwing up, sore throats, and headaches, we get a good chuckle and awkward inside jokes only our closest friends and other meme lovers would enjoy.

While this creates fast sensations that reach a lot of different people, I would argue the downside is that viruses and viral media fade away. Their impressions and impacts are not long lasting after the hype. We remember memes for quite a while, but how about memes from 2012? Is anyone still using the forever alone meme? The “what do we want? When do we want it?” meme? The last time I saw London Olympics meme was literally during the 2012 Olympics. So when it comes to finding effective spreading methods, this meme style works great if you only need to gain those clicks in the short term. But if you want a well-established connection that won’t be washed away by a wave of frogs on unicycles, you should avoid dat boi.


One Response to “Meme Spreadability”

  1. Sean Hull said

    Looking at the examples given of the Dark Knight-derived parodies of the 2008 election, it gives the impression that a lot of the content circulated on the internet isn’t inherently meaningful, but instead exists to communicate certain ideas within a certain social context. I suppose this only applies for memes that are derived from actual events, in the case of less politically charged memes it seems to be nothing but the internet-using population’s near-unanimous meme fatigue that halts their circulation.

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