The evolution of the meme


Madelyn Rehkop

Memes reach millions each day making peoples days brighter by the laughter they bring.

Jack Matousek, features writer

As I touched the cool screen of an iPad, feeling it for the first time, excitement coursed through my body as I had the power of the world at my fingertips. Look at all the power the Kirkwood Sschool District let me think I have. With my newfound potential came Safari, and with Safari came the search bar, and within that search bar I typed the five letter word that can change lives, ‘M-E-M-E-S’. My view was changed as blurry pictures with all white block letters spread across the picture that related directly to my life. How could someone understand so perfectly what I’m going through?

We all remember those original memes. The same recycled pictures with different words, each funnier then the last. Every time you thought, Wow, these can’t get much better, all I had to do is swipe right on the Safari image and boom there’s another. Each one more grand than the one before it. The memes included in this were the awkward yearbook photo with a caption underneath about how nerdy the guy was. Causing you to pause and reflect upon your appearance for a second These are generation one memes, who rose from the Earth like Titans. But suddenly they were not the same pictures anymore. There were new ones that somehow topped the other ones. These new Gods battle Titans for control of Safari’s search engine so they could sit on the throne of memes. How could they surpass one another? But here they were, champions of the heavens, new pictures with different fonts each evolving building off one another. Enter generation two: the gods.

Suddenly instead of new pictures in the same old way as before, the web search had new pictures in a different format. A picture surrounded by a thin white line outlining the picture, words migrated down to the bottom of the picture. A third greater generation has now sprouted from the seeds the two generations before has sown. A religious awakening of sorts in which the old gods were cast aside in wake of the one true God. This new generation set the standard for laughs with the Chuck Norris pictures.

For a few years, the meme format stayed the same. My searches for endless entertainment would come up with the same images and eventually, I grew bored and moved on from the Generation 3 memes. Not because they weren’t entertaining, I had just seen too many of the same thing. There was no originality anymore.

One day I decided to download Instagram to keep up with friends, classmates and teammates from my life, but instead a brand new world of memes happened to open up to me. There were so many new memes including the brand new video meme the likes of which I had never seen. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. They were so funny and constantly updating with whole Instagram accounts dedicated to the making and sharing of memes. Kermit appeared on the scene with his inner self memes as well as video clips from the likes Geico. These memes brought about Generation 4, arriving onto the scene big and bold, not backing down from those old timers. Taking their religious meme revolution to a whole new level, breaking off creating different sects known as the meme disciples. Not only are there constant new ones, they even follow a theme. If there is a popular format, every account on Instagram is working with it, crafting and molding the meme to make it more humorous. Once a new event happens that’s ‘memeable,’ the meme accounts move on to that one, creating masterpieces. This new event could be anything from funny movie quotes to political figures. No one is safe within the meme community. Such as Nancy Pelosi clapping at President Trump during the State of the Union speech Feb. 5. This mocking image has been used for hundreds of hilarious posts. They take these moments and turn them upside down.

The way memes have spread to everyone is truly a step ahead for the memes, especially the community surrounding them. Memes reach millions each day making peoples days brighter by the laughter they bring. Everyone can have daily access to them, which means people spend more time laughing. I believe that means we have entered the true golden age of memes, with the fourth and current generation. Not to mention they leave a great impression: they’re truly educating our youth on what exactly to do with our lives.

Thinking back to when I first downloaded Instagram before I found the memes, I would scroll through my feed looking at other people and their lives. Looking at memes and laughing, versus people’s boring lives, I think we’d all take the the first option. Memes have integrated into our culture so much because of social media, even advertisements for brand name companies such as the restaurant Wendy’s, try to reach people through memes. Or the new Toyota add in which they replace Chuck Norris with a truck, of course this stems from his internet fame. They are a part of our culture, even our parents are catching on. Well, only to Generation 1 memes.