Memes are becoming a viral phenomenon in today’s world. You must have encountered them while scrolling Facebook’s newsfeed or on Twitter. Back in its early days, when Richard Dawkins first defined a “meme” as an idea that spreads among society in an unexpected way. In the modern world, the idea of a “meme” has evolved. Most modern memes are captioned photos that are supposed to be humorous, often as a way to publicly mock human behavior. This humorous concept spreads rapidly through the Internet and function as an inside joke that a wide range of internet users are engaged in.
Traditionally, memes were created and shared mainly for entertainment until 2016, when social media platforms were filled with political memes. That’s right, even politics can be a great role of memes, although it’s not that unexpected considering things escaping the lips of some politicians.
With the modern technology, we can easily create a meme by remediating a viral image and then publish the content to different places – sometimes to the web, sometimes to an app, and sometimes to distributed platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Hence the spread of memes on the Internet is unstoppable and increasingly rapid. That is the reason why many politicians use memes as a catalyst for their election campaign. The candidates have been promoting memes so that they spread throughout society and create a certain general perspective on things, or present a certain political view, which brings up benefits to them
It is well known that social media plays an irrefutably large role in political campaigns. Take Donald Trump during his presidential election as an example. Donald Trump is considered an expert in using social media and exploiting it as a tool of propagating his words. Not only Trump but the other candidate of the presidential election – Hilary Clinton – has attempted to maximize her contact with voters over the internet. The role of the non-traditional forms of this election, however, seems to extend beyond any novel e-communication tool. Some youngsters have found an opportunity via social media to express their political beliefs in a way that is humorous, accessible and entertaining: memes.
People usually underestimate the hidden power of memes in politics. From being a viral trend in society as a source of inside joke, memes have become a different weapon. Most of us barely think about the serious effects of viral political memes. Indeed, they are more than just funny captioned images, there’s a message delivered in every political meme we share with each other.
Now, do you still acknowledge ‘memes’ as funny images or a powerful tool of manipulation and propaganda? The choice is yours!
James Gleick, ‘What Defines a Meme?’, Smithsonian.com, May 2011, <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/what-defines-a-meme-1904778/?all>, viewed 6 April 2017
ALVA NOË, ‘How Memes Harken Back To Pre-Internet Times’, NPR, 6 January 2017, <http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2017/01/06/507133264/how-memes-harken-back-to-pre-internet-times>, viewed 6 April 2017
‘Memes/ Politics‘, tvtropes, <http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Memes/Politics>, viewed 6 April 2017
Emma Axelrod, ‘The Role of Memes in Politics’, Brown Political Review, 20 March 2016, <http://www.brownpoliticalreview.org/2016/03/role-memes-politics/>, viewed 7 April 2017
Hua Hsu, ‘THE DANK MEMES THAT ARE “DISRUPTING” POLITICS’, The Newyoker, 4 October 2016, <http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-dank-memes-that-are-disrupting-politics>, viewed 7 April 2017
Douglas Haddow, ‘Meme warfare: how the power of mass replication has poisoned the US election’, The Guardian, 4 November 2016, <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/04/political-memes-2016-election-hillary-clinton-donald-trump>, viewed 7 April 2017
David Christopher Bell, ‘Memes You Probably Helped Spread Are Secretly Propaganda’, Cracked, 14 February 2017, <http://www.cracked.com/blog/how-dumbass-memes-turned-into-modern-propaganda/>, viewed 7 April 2017
Paul Gil, ‘What Is a ‘Meme’?’, Lifewire, 17 April 2017, <https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-meme-2483702>, viewed 7 April 2017