Memes are actively documenting the hidden things that are happening in our society. Through humorous multimedia content, memes are introducing new ideas.
What are we doing? What are we thinking? These questions can be answered by the things we create. Like art and literature, memes reflect our developing history and culture.
Reflecting Art History
Like the artistic movements of the early 20th century, memes have evolved alongside society. Dadaism is an artistic movement that took place around World War 1. During this time, it grew out of anger and rejection of the war. Dadaism is countercultural, subversive, and was designed to be thought-provoking.
Now, in the early 21st century, we’re seeing what I like to call Digital Dadaism. Memes are growing out of people’s discontentment with social norms and this is happening in a decentralized, accessible way. Because of the internet, there are fewer barriers to creating memes then there was to become an influential artist during the 1900s.
Anyone can create a viral idea that can rapidly spread. However, the use of viral ideas can be weaponized.
Memetic warfare is a term used to describe information warfare. Similar to propaganda, memetic warfare is an ideological battle. It uses “the power of memes” to influence ideas.
This term became particularly relevant during the 2016 election when memes were actively being spread to influence the different presidential campaigns. This concept is actively being studied.
The Study of Memes
As ridiculous as it sounds, I believe that it won’t be long until memes are being more commonly studied by academia. Memes are undoubtedly a culturally significant movement.
I’m optimistic about the influence of memes on people. Regardless of the disrespectful and controversial messages that some memes convey, it’s the exposure to new ideas can help people form an objective view of reality. Good or bad, this can help guide them to become more critical thinkers throughout their life.