In Cyber Safety, The Digital World

Inside the World of Memes

Memes are a huge part of the internet today. Many people who do not use the internet all the time, and even some that do, have no clue what they are for. There are a few things you should know about memes.

What are Memes?

When you ask some people to define meme they may have a hard time nailing down an exact definition. The basic meme definition is an image, GIF or video that a user alters to create something funny. Since these are distributed online some people also refer to them as internet memes. They can be as innocuous in manner as an adorable animal with a cute phrase or in some cases can even be used for bullying in some instances.

What Makes Up a Meme

There are a few very important elements to creating a meme. They are as follows:

  • Image- This is the most important factor. In many cases this is what sparks an idea for someone to create a meme. They can be from pictures from someone’s camera, drawings, digital creations or even screenshots. Some people also take pictures and Photoshop them to alter the image, such as by adding in cartoon characters to the photo.
  • Text- There is always some sort of text that is added to the picture. This can be something as simple as a one line blurb explaining the picture or making it even funnier. In general there are not more than a couple sentences worth of text in the meme.
  • Humor Element- This is the most interesting aspect when someone is trying to figure out how to make a meme. This is because humor is subjective. What one person finds funny, another may find as offensive. There are some people who create memes simply to push boundaries and see what they can get away with.

Understanding Meme Culture

Just because you know what a meme does not help many to understand meme culture. Simply put, this is a way for people to find humor in life. While some people may use them to bully others and put them down, this is not the case in all instances. In fact, there are many people who use these memes to bring a light humor to social and environmental issues while also raising awareness.

Meme Characters

While it is common for people to use their own pictures for memes, it is more common to use a picture that is already in circulation. There are certain pictures that have come to mean certain things in the world of memes that help to get across the point of the meme. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  • Willy Wonka- These memes are generally designed to show the sarcasm in a post. They feature the original Willy Wonka with his arm propping his head up and a condescending smirk on his face. Many of these can be offensive, though not all of them are.
  • Bad Luck Brian- This is done to show when someone does something that seems meaningful but it is destroyed or negated in some way.
  • Conspiracy Keanu- This is a picture of Keanu Reeves when he was in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures. They are used to voice thoughts that may be considered a conspiracy.
  • First World Problems- This is a picture of a woman crying. It is done to show the problems people in the first world have, which compared globally simply are not problems at all.
  • Brace Yourself- This is a picture from Sean Bean as his character from Game of Thrones Ned Stark. Originally the post was “Brace yourself, winter is coming.” Now it is used for any time that it is obvious what people are going to do.
  • Alien Guy- This is the guy with the big hair in Ancient Aliens holding his hands out when he is talking about aliens. While this originally was used by people talking about inexplicable events and then would write aliens below him, it has evolved. Some people use it spread preconceived and derogatory ideas about certain people. Often times this is used to showcase what people think all women do, but it has also been seen against other groups of people.
  • Nurse Joker- This is taken straight from the movie The Dark Knight. It is a picture of the joker dressed as a nurse talking about how you can do one thing and no one bats an eye, but do something else and everyone loses their mind. This is the same premise for these memes.

These are just a few of the most popular images for memes. These are ever changing due to the easy access to images on the internet. For instance, after Grumpy Cat rose to popularity, people started using her for memes to express their distaste for something. In some cases, they even flip around Grumpy Cat’s frown to give her a smile, though this is generally only done to express happiness over something that is evil.

There are even sites where you can make memes that allow you to upload your own images you want to see go viral for memes. For those who are fans of this or simply want to see their face go viral, this is something they are excited about. The only thing to keep in mind with this is that there is no way to control the way in which the images are used. An example of this is with the obsessed girl memes. She has a look on her face that many perceive as obsessed so now her face is plastered over every meme about crazy and obsessive females.

The Best Memes

Since humor is subjective, it is hard to say what the best memes are. However, there are a few aspects that make up the best ones. For one, using current events. Current events are a great way to grab people’s attention with your meme. This could be political world events or even something local. An example of this is with this meme that features the alien guy from Ancient Aliens talking about the missing Malaysian Airlines plane.

Many people also choose to use pop culture for their memes. The nice thing about this is that you can reach out to an entire community of people who are fans of that particular show, book, movie or game. Some of the most successful ones have even done a crossover meme that incorporated two fandoms into one. An example of this is with this meme which combines three of the most popular TV shows around the world: Doctor Who, Supernatural and Sherlock and combines it with the Avengers movie and comic series. People who love all of these tend to refer to these memes and the idea of these shows doing a crossover as SuperWhoLock.

Another popular option with memes to create one that embraces the human journey that we all go on. For instance, this shows the humor and truth in the fact that most people plan for their weekend, overextend themselves while simultaneously trying to relax, only to have it feel like the weekend is gone before they know it.

How to Create a Meme

If you want to create a meme for yourself, be it to get a laugh or simply raise awareness, such as for autism or cerebral palsy, there are a few options you can use. You can choose to use a program such as Photoshop to create the meme. If you do not have this or if you are not skilled enough with using the program, then you can just use a meme creator.

There are several options when looking for a meme generator. These can give you the ability to create memes using your own pictures or pre-formatted ones where you can simply add in the text you want. You can even find options for your computer as well as download a meme maker app for your smartphone or other electronic device. This can give you the ability to create fun pictures wherever you are and in the format that is most comfortable for you.

While memes in and of themselves are not mean, there are instances where they can be. This is part of the reason why all people should be careful about the images they post online. This is not just of adults but children as well. People have used children and baby images to create millions of memes. Since there is no way to control the context someone will use, it is important to think about online safety before posting any pictures.

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