It is impossible to avoid laughing out loud seeing a picture of Anastasia y Griselda —Cinderella’s stepsisters— tagged with this legend “Let’s hook Prince Harry” concerning Peña Nieto’s Family visit to England.
When you finally stop laughing, you can think about inventiveness required to create a meme, who is the person that is behind of it and if he/she does not have anything more important to do.
What has made memes so popular? What do they say about contemporary culture?
While health policies, technological and medical advances have increased life expectancy around the world —according to World Health Organization, 81 years to men and 87 years to women— paradoxically everything around us has short length. A blender, a car, the furniture of our houses, a boyfriend, a marriage, are now almost disposable.
Life is not anymore that long period in which we grow, reproduce and die; it looks now like a chain of brief occurrences that are linked each other. We live in an age where events have to be fast. We do not like waiting. We are in a hurry. Electronic devices are updated so fast that when we just get the 3thversion the 4th is on sale and people speculate about the 5th.
Cultural evolution is accompanied of certain forms of language and communication which are congruent with social dynamics. Memes, as language and linguistic phenomenon, help to construct the culture of “concrete and fast”. They are examples of social ways of communication that favour that cultural transformation.
The study of memes —Memetics— applied to communication and as a form of language, it describes to me, this “concrete and fast” aspect of contemporary culture. We communicate brief messages transmitted by visual ways through social webs, blogs, emails and news; reading from a computer, a tablet or by a mobile. If I think about memes´ social function, it seems that its main intention is to say something ironically and virally, instead the veracity of its messages.
Memes offer ironic critique, sarcastic reflexion, mocking laments, venom advertising. They are like a postmodern hurtful murmur which is disseminated very fast by webs, making us laugh and participate in a social dynamic, in a kind of communication that looks like it’s not having any clear intention.
Being anonymous, memes give you freedom to say whatever you what, without feeling fear to be censored. They allow mocking grotesquely of authorities; complaining of politicians, ridicule unfair decisions in a football game or simply making a joke about something quotidian.
But, what is its goal? Are they just a way to communicate? Are we waiting to see if they will be transcendent? Are they a kind of relief to mocking about our world? Are we waiting for them to generate an actual consciousness and social change? Or maybe are they simply fun and contemporary hobby?
As a creative process, making memes does not only requires of a good phrase with an image. It needs a special sense of humor, a humor that is updated every day, a spirit to create that is informed by current world, an extraordinary ability to think and communicate in a simple and brief way.
If people, would communicate through memes, can we imagine how would change our way of relating and learning. How would parents communicate long and in detail with their adolescents? What would happen with love, and how would it solve differences between? How would legislators discuss cleverly to promulgate policies? If we use memes as a teaching method, how would teachers promote reading great literary works and academic dialogue?
Memes as a way of communicate; let us gain a new kind of criticism and social consciousness: viral irony. It is creative, funny and propagates at speed. In addition, we lost some richness about language, dialogue and mutual understanding and we can favour manners to be merciless about some perspectives and ways of living.
At the end of the day, what we will do with memes? Will they be just a viral communicative trend and will they dead as fast as they spread? Or will they be a social transcendence communicative way, which is here to stay and to challenge constantly our need to dialogue, understanding and action, for social change?