Exploring Meme Culture

A look into the growing internet sensation

By Isabel Evangelista  (Staff Writer) -8/5/16

Meme enthusiast Joseph Martinez as he dons a “Pepe the Frog” shirt
Meme enthusiast Joseph Martinez as he dons a “Pepe the Frog” shirt

With the cyber age among us, people of the internet have started the ever-growing viral phenomenon known as memes for entertainment and humorous purposes. This quickly evolving piece of internet pop culture means that memes can stem from anything whether it’s a television show, animal, person, movie, etc. A new meme can appear almost weekly, and some can die just as quickly.
Memes can derive from any place on the internet, but it’s well known to be commonly established and easily spread on websites or mobile apps such as Reddit, 4chan, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter. There are websites and encyclopedic databases that are constantly updated and strongly dedicated to discovering the origins, history, purpose, and use of memes throughout the decade such as Know Your Meme.
Due to how rapidly the meme game changes, it’s hard to establish which meme ultimately rules them all as the most dominant. One week it can be “Pepe the Frog” and the next it’s suddenly “Dat Boi.” The sudden appearance of new memes makes it easy to forget the ones that came out a mere six years ago, such as “Y U No Guy,” “Troll Face,” or “Forever Alone Guy.” The constant overuse of a meme over a period of time can also be the cause of its death due to the fact that it simply isn’t as entertaining as it used to be anymore.
The meme movement has grown to the extent that if people manage to create a successful meme, they’re able to generate money from it. Most recently, the meme “Chewbacca mom” earned the woman who created the video, along with her family, full ride scholarships to Southeastern University in Florida.  The man behind the meme “Bad Luck Brian,” a meme used to describe unfortunate and ironic situations, has earned around $15,000 to $20,000 simply because people use his picture to create said meme.
Other well-known memes have started merchandising in order to gain profits of their own. These memes include Doge, Grumpy Cat, and Nyan Cat, along with many others. On top of merchandising, the people behind doge have also created their own online currency, or “cryptocurrency” known as dogecoin, a play on bitcoins. Grumpy Cat had her own Christmas film that screened on Lifetime in 2014.
Ironically, one of the oldest memes, “Rickrolling,” a phenomenon that has been going on for almost 10 years and includes Rick Astley’s hit single “Never Gonna Give You Up,” has surprisingly earned Astley almost no money at all with a total of $12.
The Internet is evolving at a rapid pace, and along with it is the culture of internet memes. Though its origin is unknown, this mysterious trend brings new opportunities for people to gain massive recognition from the entire world and provide them financial success.