You can not Step into the Same Meme Twice

An Internet meme is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry or for humorous purposes, from person to person via the Internet.

It most commonly takes the form of an image, frequently an animated or still image macro  . Hyperlinks, video, websites, and hashtags can be used as internet memes as well. Catch phrases, slogans, logos, sometimes including an intentional or unintentional misspelling can become memes on social media platforms. These small movements tend to spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, direct email, or news sources. They may relate to various existing Internet cultures or subcultures, often created or spread on various websites, or blogs, and other social media communications sites. Instant communication through digital devices facilitates rapid multiple word-of-mouth transmission .

The word meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads.

Internet memes are a subset of this general meme concept specific to the culture and environment of the Internet. The concept of the Internet meme was first proposed by Mike Godwin in the June 1993 issue of Wired.

A meme is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture — often with the aim of conveying a particular phenomenon, theme, or meaning represented by the meme. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.

The self-replicating and mutating component of memes in a digital mass media environment means that memes can change dramatically in their intent and original message. A recent example of this shifting intent is Pepe the Frog, which was hijacked and given a racist intent by those in the extreme American right .

Because Mass Media conveys intentional and unintentional messages, and visual fields of information are highly susceptible to context clues and placement, internet memes are fluid in meaning and intent. With their highly visual content and digital text environment being so flexible in layout and incorporating layers of information ( audio, colour, size, shape, and animation ), internet memes can change meaning much faster than regular language. So, as Heraclitus might say, you can not step into the same meme twice.



For more information & insight on memes see Project 3: Exercise 4.3 – Memes.

For a more alternative creative expression approach to memes see my Implied Spaces post, What is the Meme-ing of This


Constructed Reality & Unintended Messages: Visual Context

Mass Media constructs reality.  Placement of text and visuals  builds associations & context. This in turn conveys messages, both intended and unintended, which contribute to values, beliefs & ideologies.

Links to actual articles:

Trump’s London visit still uncertain after call with May as tensions continue

Some clownfish have no personality, Australian study finds



Is Pizza are All Right ? – American brands negotiating fractured culture

Tiki Brand got an unwelcome association with the white nationalist movement in August when neo-Nazis and their allies carried Tiki torches in a nigh-time march in Charlottesville . In response they posted a public statement disavowing any connection the extremist views of the far right .

TIKI Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and are deeply saddened and disappointed. We do not support their message or the use of our products in this way. Our products are designed to enhance backyard gatherings and to help family and friends connect with each other at home in their yard.


A new problem has emerged in marketing in the polarizing political environment in the United States of America – various far right groups are seeking cultural normalization by associating themselves with a variety of American products & brands. Tiki Brand garnered unwelcome association with neo-Nazi activity, while Papa John’s pizza chain  when its chief executive’s Nov. 1 call with investors, in which he blamed disappointing pizza sales on football players’ protests against racism and police brutality (Source).

 As the marketplace becomes the latest battleground in the culture wars, brand strategists are advising companies accustomed to staying out of the political fray to proactively weigh in with bold statements about race — as Nike and Ben & Jerry’s have done — to thwart attempts by hate groups to adopt brands as their own.


More brands are also building up their crisis management teams in preparation for the next racial flare-up, said Tiffany R. Warren, senior vice president and chief diversity officer at Omnicom Group, a global marketing and corporate communications holding company. (Washington Post Nov 16 – )



Keeping in mind the basic Mass Media Principles of Business Interests, Target Audiences, and embedded Values, Ideologies & Beliefs, it is easy to see that in the shifting demographics and polarizing cultural changes of American society, maintaining a viable brand becomes more and more difficult. Social action and public expression of a set of wide inclusive  values & beliefs will become a necessity to prevent a brand & company from being isolated from the larger population and their buying strength .