Going Viral: Have you been infected with memes?

People At School - Y U No Undestand Meme Reference
Memes - Mainly consist of a caption and an image

What is a meme?

A virus is a micro-organism which can spread at an astonishing rate in a very short period of time. They use what is around them to spread, be it other cells or the host’s body. The same could be said about the spread of information across the Internet. All Internet users are wary of what they download, be it a malicious program intent on destroying your computer, or scams which are trying to empty your bank accounts. Surprisingly, not all Internet viruses are bad.

Culture spreads across the Internet very quickly. Ideas, pictures, videos, music, phrases and much more are being created by Internet users and are being published the the World Wide Web. With more people on the Internet, and people spending more time on the Internet, the spread of these ideas are accelerating. These ideas are called “memes”. These amusing ideas stick in our minds, we may share them on social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, or we may pass on the information through other means of communication.

Before the World Wide Web, certain phrases became popular, such as certain profanities. People hear what they think is funny and they would pass it on. One of the first memes on the Internet is thought to be the :-] face. We think it may have originated from around 1982, but has been used ever since. Phrases such as “All your base are belong to us” came from around 1991.

Characteristics of a meme:

A meme tends to have the characteristics which provoke a rapid, strong emotional response, be it shock, excitement or amusement. A great proportion of Memes are not in the slightest bit useful, but are memorable enough for people to share it. They could include a catchy soundtrack, or could just be so abnormal, that you don’t forget it.

How they spread:

Anyone who has an Internet connection and the capacity to make an image, sound or phrase is able to make a meme. File hosting websites such as YouTube, Photobucket, and meme-specific websites can show a creation to the world. These creations can be “tagged”, which is giving a list of one word descriptions which the user thinks will match what they have made. These tags are used by search engines to find the creation, so creations with more tags are more “visible”

Famous memes:

Think you’ve never seen a meme? These are the most famous:


Lolcats. Photos taken of cats which have been given amusing captions


Rickroll. Rick Astley’s famous song “Never gonna give you up”, taken out of context, can appear on videos which claim to have a useful link or unbelievable footage.


This is SPARTA! King Leonidas’ face from the film 300 being pasted on to existing photos with the caption “This is SPARTA!”


All your base are belong to us. Phrase has been popularised by sites such as YouTube and Internet forum websites.


Nyan Cat. A small gif image accompanied with an 8 bit soundtrack.


Fail. Images showing obvious fails, with the caption fail. Simple enough.


Leeroy Jenkins. More popular amongst World of Warcraft fans. A catchy video showing someone shouting “Leeroy Jenkins”


ORLY? Shortened version of Oh really? Image of a surprised looking owl with the caption, ORLY?


Russian Reversal. In America, you <action here>, In Soviet Russia, <action here> you. Replace <action here> with anything and see if it fits.


Do not want. Originated from horrible English dubbing of Chinese Starwars Episode III. Instead of saying “NOOOOOO!” It said “DO NOT WANT!”

Posted by Struan McDonough


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