Why Your Favorite Internet Memes Should Never Be Forgotten

Why Your Favorite Internet Memes Should Never Be Forgotten


AMANDA BRENNAN: A
lot of my work is focused on keeping on the pulse
of trends of internet culture. My name is Amanda Brennan. And I’m a Content and
Community Associate at Tumblr. I am also a meme librarian. A meme is a piece
of content that travels from person to person
and changes along the way. The term was coined in 1976 by
evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his book
“The Selfish Gene.” He originally used
it to describe pieces of cultural
transmission, so stuff like melodies or catchphrases,
even trends in fashion. Before the internet, memes still
came in all shapes and sizes. One of the earliest
instances is Kilroy Was Here. It’s this piece of graffiti that
was popularized in World War II by American soldiers. So when new soldiers
came through, they knew that their
people had been there. Another one that’s
a great example is the Star Wars opening crawl. It’s been used in
parodies since two years after the original
film was released. Internet memes can take
many different forms still. They can be hashtags, emoticons. They could be a video or a vine. Songs can be memes. What lives solely
in internet space can sometimes be very
fleeting or temporal. Flash animations
like Homestar Runner were huge in the early 2000s. 2005 marked the birth of
YouTube and every video meme. BRIAN COLLINS: And
boom goes the dynamite. AMANDA BRENNAN: In
2009, we really thought about stereotypes
and representing them online in stuff like Advice
Animals and Rage Comics. 2013, we changed
language with doge. Dogs were assigned
their own dialect, just like cats were
in the early 2000s. [MEOW] [MUSIC PLAYING] Memes had a longer life
span a few years ago. Now, we see memes like
“If a Dog Wore Pants.” It got super big. It appeared on the “Today Show.” But after a few days, no one
was really talking about it. It’s so important
right now to be archiving this stuff because
meme culture is really rapidly growing. And it represents what’s
going on the outskirts of pop culture. We can learn so much about
how people communicate through internet memes. We also really learn
about communities. There’s a series of blogs called
“What Should We Call Me” where people will change
it a little bit to be about their profession
or their locality. And using the
reaction gifs, they can identify their
feelings and share it within a community that
knows how they feel. Memes are fun. And they’re really cool. And it’s a way to sometimes
work through hard stuff. It adds more nuance to
speech and interaction. We have no idea how
people were really sharing their weird cultural
ideas before the internet. Now, someone can tweet
something and someone across the globe can
identify with it. SPEAKER: Have memes
changed the way you communicate with friends? Let us know in the
comments below. And to find out how a former
corporate lawyer gave up his career to be a
full-time LEGO artist, check out this video right here. NATHAN SAWAYA: I left the law
firm behind to play with bricks full time. The bricks I use in my art
are the very same bricks that people could
purchase at a toy store. I don’t paint them. I don’t have access to special
colors or special shapes and sizes. And we’re in my
art studio today, where I have over 5
million LEGO bricks. SPEAKER: Thanks for watching. And be sure to subscribe
for more Seeker Stories.

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “Why Your Favorite Internet Memes Should Never Be Forgotten

  1. I'm an aspiring meme librarian … or folderian. I have a meme dedicated folder on my PC, so I use memes in fb chat whenever it's appropriate 🙂

  2. Memes are a virus. They've infected millions of people and caused intense symptoms like third-wave feminism, complete loss of independent thought, and loss of interest in the real world. And just like any virus it changes form each year, finding new ways to ruin people's lives while they think it's something they'll just get over. This plague must end.

  3. From what I've gathered through the comments, few people watched past the first 15 seconds of the video.

    Anyway, I remember the sharp, pointy S's that we'd draw as kids, starting with the 6 vertical lines, but I never knew where it came from or why we drew it. And what about schoolyard games? I grew up on Guam and it was fascinating to find that people here in Florida also played Slide Slide Slippery Slide or Big Mac Filet o Fish (if you don't know what I'm talking about, they're handgames like Patty Cake).

  4. Kilroy was here "one of the earlier instances"
    "We have no idea how people were really sharing their weird cultural ideas before the internet"
    The rest of the video is okay I guess for a normie like me, but wow. just wow

  5. Stop it people with the criticism! Someone needs to keep track of our memes and document them! In a thousand years people are going to find them and think they are the language of the gods! Don't you guys watch ancient aliens!?! 🙄

  6. "We have no idea how people were really sharing their weird cultural ideas before the internet" (2:50)? Really?? Let me help you. They used music, films, newspapers, magazines, poems, novels, comic books, posters, radio, television, theater, religious gatherings, schools and colleges, international associations (e.g. scouting), international art exhibits/performances, handwritten letters, travel/tourism, the telephone, face-to-face conversations, commercial advertising . . . and I suppose I'm forgetting one or two other methods.

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