Memes are evolving: Fresher than ever, not going anywhere

Jackson Lapp, Staff Writer

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I am going to write down a few phrases, and I want you to keep count of how many you understand. Here we go: Cash me outside, he need some milk, “Make America Great Again”, Salt Bae, “Bröther, may I have some ö a t s?”, and finally, ugh,  Pickle Rick. I can guarantee that whether you laughed, cried, scoffed, or died a little inside upon reading these, you probably at least recognize one.

Meme is a term thrown around far more often than previous years, and many might not understand its true definition.  Merriam-webster.com states a meme is “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.” In reference to funny pictures on the internet, this idea seems harmless enough.

However, according to Digital Information World, 85% of teens and young adults in America use social media. Having a community this large and this connected spawns problems. When those providing the information and memes to networks spin them to elicit certain feelings, the harmless fun becomes a very dangerous source of propaganda, through a method called biased language.

Originally, memes were pure. Funny videos of people crashing into objects or the classic “I can has cheezburger” meme were made with only the intent of making others laugh, but as time passed, the line between memes and other news blurred. There are memes about current events and news, and top stories about memes. One meme, the legendary Pepe the Frog, was branded as a white supremacy symbol by the Anti-Defamation League during the 2016 election, despite his widespread appreciation by people of all races and backgrounds.

While memes evolve, those who understand the true potential of information technology are able to take advantage of the system and twist it to their own liking.
Memes have become a huge facet of political strategy, as Donald Trump, a man with little political experience, was able to use not only the popularization of his own name (a meme itself), but also simple, easy to replicate campaign slogans that found their way onto every news network and social media platform that it they could.

I doubt this evolution of the memescape is progressive for society; it seems that America is entering an era of vulnerability to media. In other words, due to the rapid increase of the speed of information sharing, people are able to spread opinions so efficiently that their peers will begin to adopt the opinions of others as their own, without taking time to consider what actually matters to them.

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Memes are evolving: Fresher than ever, not going anywhere