by Will Dance
What do a Cod, a Lion and a Llama have in common?
They are of course all internet ‘memes’: Ling Cod, Linguistic Lioness and Linguist Llama. Defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘an image, video, piece of text, typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users’ memes, pronounced [miːmz], were traditionally an element of culture that travelled orally, generally as a fable or joke. Nowadays, memes travel much faster than word of mouth as methods such as chain emails or Facebook allow them to be passed on from person to person instantly.
Majority of the memes we see today are humour centric, light hearted images or texts that have the sole purpose of appealing to a viewer’s humorous side and as a result being shared, forwarded or passed on.
Memes are usually transmitted by teenagers due to the simple fact it is this generation of people that message each other most and also pay more focus to internet trends and being at the forefront of social interaction.
Lauren Ancel Meyers, a biology professor at the University of Texas believes that memes spread through the internet person to person as a disease does in the real world. She is perhaps channelling the view of Richard Dawkins, who in 1976 described memes as forms of cultural extension, a way for people to transmit cultural ideas to each other. As Meyers said, not unlike the way that disease spreads from host to host, a meme idea will also travel from mind to mind leaving behind a mark or memory.
The Internet and in turn its capability of instant communication is how memes are spread today. From Facebook posts of Chuck Norris with over a hundred thousand ‘likes’ to a link of a YouTube video of Rick Astley, memes are as diverse as they are simple. Interestingly they are universal, ranging from the a specialist subject like linguistics as seen in Linguist Llama to a dog(e) that just likes to say “wow”.
See examples, such as “tense, moody and irregular: must be a verb” and more on quickmeme.com