The role memes play in our culture

For centuries scientists have been desperately searching for the cure to an unknown problem. This problem has grown to plague several aspects of our daily lives including television, media, Facebook profile pages and even the smallest of small talk. This problem, as memetics can only put it is: the meme.

Okay, but seriously, we need to talk about memes and how important they are to American culture. When I first heard the word meme, I was confused because it sounds like some type of word an internet troll would use. I wasn’t far off the truth.

As the meme craze progressed, one question burned in my mind.

“Why in the grace of the earth is this even a thing?”

However, as time has gone by I have succumbed to the delightful poison that are memes. Additionally, I truly believe that memes have more significant uses than we give them credit.

Val Miller | Marlin Chronicle
(Image: Val Miller | Marlin Chronicle)

Let’s look at some of the more popular memes in the past few months. Harambe, dat boi, the zodiac killer, Bernie or Hillary and Damn Daniel have all had a significant presence in media in 2016. Harambe, the gorilla killed in the Cincinnati Zoo, has been this sensational joke of “he didn’t deserve it.” Dat boi is probably the most random but created this odd, unique new way for younger kids to just say “hi.” The Zodiac Killer meme, which revolved around a series of tweets and Tumblr posts about Ted Cruz being the Zodiac Killer, made absolutely no sense to me but it was just something hilarious to joke about.

Long winded posts would end up in some insane conspiracy about Ted Cruz being the zodiac killer and in some twisted millennial humor way, it was hilarious! Bernie or Hillary combined several aspects of other memes along with making Bernie out to be the “cool grandpa” and Hillary being this boring, pandering sellout. Damn Daniel was annoying, still annoying, again annoyed and somehow pretty endearing. You go to up to a friend and say “Damn (insert name”) and throw out a random compliment.

Talking about these memes has led me to an epiphany; Memes create dialogue. I cannot count the amount of serious conversations that have stirred from the mention of Harambe. Dat boi never created mind blowing, thought provoking conversations but they lead to hilarious laugh sessions with close friends. Ted Cruz being the Zodiac Killer partially raised my generation’s awareness on the 2016 Presidential Race. Honestly, it feels like my generation is just apathetic sometimes but somehow this Zodiac Killer meme created some type of awareness about how bad the next president could be. Bernie or Hillary did the same exact thing for the Democratic side, really pushing the “Feeling the Bern” support. Damn Daniel is just sweet and has brought me some pretty fun conversations. Sometimes people need a little encouragement.

Look, I’m not the expert on memes but they are pretty radical. They make people laugh, smile, feel confused, cry, get angry, hungry and feel lots of emotions. Memes are a reflection of how our culture is evolving. They create an interesting social dynamic and can serve as great tools to view our culture.

Connor Pederson