Societal Impacts of Memes
By Keyshla Guillon
The word meme, coined by Richard Dawkins, is described as the “small cultural units of transmission, analogous to genes, which are spread from person to person by copying or imitating information” (Shifman 2013:363). Therefore, the memes that go around are usually an imitation or a “remix” of an original meme. Memes are appropriated and used in different ways repeatedly because although people enjoy memes, they also find amusement in creating their own versions.
Given that memes are mostly made from inside jokes, individuals must be a part of the community sharing the meme to understand it. The way we interpret memes allow us to create our online communities based on our common values, ideas and beliefs. People feel comfortable to post whatever they want because their posts are not censored.
Memes are also a way for politicians to advocate their campaign. People usually find memes to be funny. They are convenient because they are easy to make and cost little to nothing. It engages millennial and keeps them up to date with current politics. It also makes it easier for us to affiliate ourselves with politicians we agree or disagree with.
Millennial’s Used These Tactics
Social Issues Within the New Presidency
The images below demonstrate ideologies reinforced through Trumps new presidency. Trump has been targeting immigrants. One of his goals was to create a wall and to deport all illegal immigrants. We are reinforcing his ideas by laughing at the problems he’s bringing toward marginalized groups instead of thinking of ways to dismantle the issue. Some of us may laugh in agreeance to how foolish Trump’s policies are, but this reaction shows no sensitivity or sympathize with others affected by these issues.
Although memes help tackle the social issues within our society, they also create some within digital culture. Individuals see memes and laugh at them without thinking about the impact it has on the individuals featured in the meme. It can have detrimental emotional and mental effects given that individuals can start having negative self perceptions.
One solution to help dismantle the detrimental affects of memes is to apply “The right to be forgotten” which has been put in place in Europe and Argentina. It gives individuals the right to deindex pages, which hides their photos and makes it close to impossible to find. Thereby, although memes are great to look at for a laugh, it is important for individuals to be mindful about what they share and post.