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The History of Memes and The Internet

Date published: | John BlackSmith

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 What is a Meme Back Then and Now?

According to the Oxford dictionary, a meme is “an image, a video, a piece of text, etc. that is passed very quickly from one Internet user to another, often with slight changes that make it humorous”, and those small samples of media has already invaded the Internet. We can hardly spend a day without seeing at least one meme on social networks or websites.

But not so many of us know that this world has appeared long before the mass use of the Internet, and it had a different meaning. This article offers you a short guide to memes and answers frequently asked questions about them.

How Meme Was Invented?

The word “meme” was first coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, who believed that cultural ideas are similar to genes and they could spread and mutate as well. This concept was first used in the book of Dawkins, called ‘The Selfish Gene’.

When Did Meme-As-We-Know-It Appear?

It took meme a little more than 15 years to transform in what we see it now. It was in the mid-1990s when the world saw the first humorous piece of media.

How Did First Memes Look Like?

The first viral images were a bit simpler than the modern ones. They had no witty captions and were more general. Examples of such old-fashioned memes are dancing babies and hamsters.

What Types of Memes Are There?

Nowadays, there is more than one type of memes. You can come across viral pictures with humorous captions in black or white colours. This is the most popular kind of memes, as it is created easily and quickly.

However, this viral content also exists in a form of videos. We all know highly popular ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘Harlem Shake’, and those are bright examples of new variants of quickly spread ‘elements of culture’.

One more form, which is worth mentioning, is GIFs, as they gave new life to long-forgotten pictures, short episodes from movies and TV series, and the emotional reactions of famous people.

Memes Are Divided in Several Categories. What Are They?

The Classics: those are pictures that were created long ago, but they are still popular and hilarious.

Trending: these memes are extremely widespread now. They usually reflect some contemporary event, have a popular phrase etc. Those pictures are shared during a short period of time.

The Series: if you see a picture in different variants and slightly different caption, they definitely belong to this category.

Specific: such pictures are usually created and shared by a certain audience. People from other fields, social level, or even countries may not understand their gist.

Unexpected: these are pictures that make you burst out laughing because of the broken expectations. Three first part of the phrase is normal and ordinary, but the ending is somewhat nonsensical.

Why Memes Are So Popular?

This happened because of the Internet and the opportunities it provides. You can send something to your friend and colleague in several clicks, and such an easy access to content contributed to its extreme popularity.