Does One Simply Make Memes?

Mostly associated with online jokes, the concept of the meme has its roots in the scientific community. Is there a serious use of it?

In his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins conceived of the meme as something like the cultural equivalent of a gene:

We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme. If it is any consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related to ‘memory’, or to the French word même. It should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream’.

Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain, via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.

An effective meme spreads quickly, like a virus. When encountered it usually has an immediate emotional effect on the viewer — much like a joke. Memes are designed to be the most easiest shared forms of media, so memes are especially powerful in social media.

Where are Memes?

Many from The 42 Best Science Memes On The Internet (BuzzFeed).

People in the Meme Images

“Many of the people I spoke with at ROFLCon, or heard speak, echoed similar sentiments: while they didn’t feel a direct sense of ownership over their creation, recognition is always nice.” — At ROFLCon, watching memes go mainstream (The Verge)


Wholesome Memes are a subgenre of image macros in which creators subvert audience expectation by taking established meme templates and using them expressing supportive, caring sentiments rather than making the jokes usually associated with each template.
Wholesome Memes (Know Your Memes)


See also @RespectfulMemes



Social Commentary

“That Small Area Next To The Dangerous Chemicals Is The Employees Eating Area”

Make Some!

More References

Featured image The frame from The Fellowship of the Ring most often used for the One Does Not Simply Meme, found at One Does Not Simply Meme Generator