Memes – A Guide to What They Are and How to Make One
I can't check my Facebook page these days without seeing at least one picture of a dinosaur, or Futurama character Phillip J. Fry waxing poetic with some random thought, observation, question, or dig at one of society's sub-cultures. These "memes" are taking over quickly so I figured it was time to figure out what they were and how to make one so I can catch up to the rest of the world.
It wasn't until I read a buddy's blog the other day where he shared some of his favorite memes that I finally decided to do some research and see what all the hub-bub was about. His blog even educated me a bit when he said memes have been around for a while and provided a definition of the word from the Merriam-Webster website which says that a meme is an "an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture". Meaning it's not even necessarily an internet thing (mind = blown). The hippie movement of the 1960's by definition would be considered a meme (Whoa! Trippy).
Before I get into how I went about making a few myself, let me just say that I hate the word meme (pronounced "MEEM"). It sounds stupid. It sounds like some kind of irritating noise an alien baby makes on a cartoon when the kids who found him are trying to hide it before their parents find it.
(Muffled, "meme, meme, meme" coming from the closet)
Parent: What's the noise?
Kid: (nervous) Uh...that...oh...my phone battery is dying.
Parent: Well plug it in! That sound is annoying. (mumbles) Kids and their gadgets.
Kid: Sure thing Pop! I'll take care of it right now.
Alright, back on point. The process of making my own meme was surprisingly easy. In my head, I assumed that in order to make one of these things you needed to have access to Photoshop, which I do at the station, but it was actually quite the opposite. I just Googled "how do you create a meme" and in 0.24 seconds, it gave me "About 189,000,000 results".
I clicked on the first one that looked reputable, memegenerator.net, and browsed through a few of the thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of memes other users had created. Some were hilarious, some were hateful, and some were downright stupid. Each had a theme like "Socially Awkward Penguin" or "First World Problems" that you could use as a theme to your meme (that was a totally unintentional rhyme). Each one also came equipped with a "Generate" link in the lower right hand corner that you clicked on to create your own custom meme using that same stock picture. Where these stock photos originate from, I have no idea. I assume someone, somewhere in the vast space of internet-land had at one point created the picture in Photoshop and set it free with a mouse click in hopes that it would sprout wings and lead a fulfilling life of making countless appearances on websites, social media walls, and whatever other viral couch it could crash on for the night.
Once I picked a photo I liked it was just a matter of typing my text in the spaces provided and clicking "Generate" again. It wasn't as simple as it seemed. I couldn't just throw anything in there. It had to be something funny or sarcastic, something that was "my style", something that people will want to share, because after all, that's the point isn't it? To get my tiny sliver of internet fame regardless of how fleeting it is?
But what to say. Do I make it pop culture related? Do I poke fun at a certain group of people? Do I make it a random observation that hopefully other people get? I decided on the pop culture route and came up with this:
Greatest meme ever? Not hardly, but I felt it was timely with the recent outbreak of Carly Rae Jepsen impersonation videos that are out there, and it made me chuckle a little to myself, so I went with it.
Then something happened, once I realized how easy it was, I couldn't stop. It was like a new addiction. I made this one:
Then this one:
They just started pouring out of my fingertips, like this one:
And this one:
Then the one I'm most proud of:
I finally had to stop myself because I had other work I needed to get to. Which by the way, not to rub it in, but how sweet is my job where creating memes and showing them to you on our website is considered "work".
Anywho, regardless of my feelings toward the word itself, once I got on a roll, it didn't take me long to see what all the fuss was about. At it's most basic, it's another internet avenue for people to express themselves. I already have other meme ideas bouncing around in my head that I'll be sure to share at some point in the future. Who knows, maybe I'll take the time to create one using my own photo. Surely I can do something with this: