Memes are addictive and trashy, but that doesn’t stop an entire generation of people using and abusing them at any given time. The number of times I have tried to have a conversation over text with my brother and only received memes as answers is ridiculous. In fact, if I had a dollar for every meme that was sent my way, I’d be a debt-free woman. While memes appear pointless and mindless, parents can use them to manipulate their kids into doing homework and chores around the house. How you ask? All it takes is some knowledge about the dankest of memes, and you too shall become a meme lord.
What is a meme?
A meme is a highly shareabledigital image with a witty tagline. They are appealing, because they can be funny, clever, sarcastic, or simply tap into an unspoken but relatable concept. For example, some of my favorite memes are the ones that reference what it is like to have siblings, like the meme of a guy with an arrow through his head, captioned, “I’m sorry, you’re fine, please don’t tell mom.” Every time this tired meme pops up on Instagram, I have to share it. Memes not only offer personal entertainment, they are also a proven way to connect effortlessly to others.
The History of Memes
Believe it or not, memes were not birthed from the Internet! According to Britannica (2019), Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist, was the first to propose the concept of “memes” in his 1976 work The Selfish Gene. In a recentinterview with Vice (2018), Dawkins defined a meme as “the cultural equivalent of a gene,” meaning that, in the same way genes are passed down from person to person, memes culturally spread through the population. By his definition, cultural phenomena like fashion, slang, and fads can all be considered memes, as well as the traditional image with a caption that we see circulating social media today.
Dawkins’ ideas are elegantly illustrated with today’s dank memes(memes that are overused and overhyped) — for example the “free real estate” and the “salt bae” meme.
Salt bae: CNBC (2018) reported that the man behind the salt bae meme is Nusret Gokce, a chef and restaurant owner who became a viral sensation for the way he dramatically sprinkles salt on the steaks he’s prepared for guests. Since an Instagram video of him performing this action went viral, Gokce’s salt bae has become a dank meme and gets used for anything that is perceived as extra or snobbish.
Check out Gokce performing this amazing meme here.
Free real estate: This meme originated from the TV show, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!which aired on Cartoon Network’s late night TV Adult Swim. This hilarious sketch is in the form of a commercial in which Tim and Eric are desperately trying to convince a man named Jim to move into a free house. It ends with a close up shot of Tim whispering the timeless line, “It’s free real estate.”
Check out the hilarious video here.
In his YouTube video, “What makes a meme go viral?” Hank Green (2017) attributes the popularity of memes to the bandwagon effect. The bandwagon effectis when people join in on a trend or belief simply because others have told them to. Social media is a great way to increase the popularity of a meme, because it enables us to share them with the world. When someone finds a meme that they adore, they share it with anyone who will find it funny, usually with a caption like, “OMG you have to see this!”
Hank (2017) elaborates that a meme going viral depends on how extreme of an emotion it elicits in us. The more outrageous a meme, the more likely we are to share it. In my opinion, this also has to do with how nostalgic a meme’s content is. For example,the popular meme that features a clenched fist from the popular TV show Arthur can be used for a plethora of situations but is mainly used to elicit subtle levels of frustration and anger.
In my opinion, the reason this meme became such a viral sensation is the feelings of nostalgia it brought to millennials. I adored the TV show Arthur as a child, and every time this meme pops up on my Instagram discover page, it brings back memories from when I was small and cute.
The Most Insane Viral Memes
To become a meme lord, you must be familiar with these iconic memes.
Success Kid: In 2010, an image of a cute little baby at the beach clenching his fist began circulating the Internet. This image is usually used when something awesome happens that was unexpected. Check out its history here.
Distracted Boyfriend: The distracted boyfriend meme was discovered on Shutterstock, a site that houses royalty free images. Its appeal is self-explanatory.
check out these A++ memes here.
World Record Egg: This is by far one of the most ridiculous things to have happened at the beginning of 2019. It all began when an account on Instagram wanted to see if a photo of an egg could
gain more likes than one of Kylie Jenner’s photos, which had 18 million likes. As of today, the great egg on Instagram has over 53 million likes and 9.9 million followers. This then sparked a series of memes with the captions, “Can this meme get more likes than the Kylie Jenner baby pic?”
Check out their Instagram to keep up-to-date on the hunt for the egg! @world_record_egg. Check out these amazing memes here.
Need more memes, because that just doesn’t feel like enough? Frequentknowyourmeme.com to maintain your newly-acquired meme lord status. You won’t be sorry.
How GKIS Parents Can Become Meme Lords
As the popularity of memes has rapidly risen over the last few years, it’s evident that memes are here to stay. Many people and workplaces are now using them to their advantage. Teachers are using them as motivational tools when they’re grading papers, and workplace managers post them in employee break rooms as funny motivational tools.
Mom, Dad – you too can be a meme lord! Not only can you bring humor into your everyday chore assignments, but you can mortify your kids for being quicker in-the-know than they are!
For example, use them as motivational and study tools when helping kids with homework. There is an entire genre of memes dedicated to random facts. These are known as WTF facts and include some fantastic information that you usually wouldn’t learn in a classroom. Of course, fact check. You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Kids love them! My younger brother will spend hours looking at these memes, especially the history ones.
What sites will help GKIS parents become meme kings and queens?
- Instagram: @memzar
- Google search
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, make one! Believe it or not, making memes is as simple as pulling up free design sites/apps like Canva or Imgur. Remember, if it doesn’t cause immediate laughs, then it’s probably not a meme!
Dr. Bennett founded GKIS as a service for parents looking to have more fun with their kids, which means joining them where they’re at. Become a meme lord to lighten up, have fun, and encourage mutual meme sharing with your goofy brood. If your kids are younger than eleven, they’ll be in awe of you. If their tweens or teens, you’ll get a mortified eye roll – which Dr. Bennett says is “the best you’re gonna get outta teens.” haha.
Thank you to CSUCI intern, Kassidy Simpson for providing parents with information they need to help become as meme savvy as their kids. Need more support to get Internet savvy and partner with your kids instead of lecture them? You’ll love our GKIS Connected Family Online Course. Designed to help parents lighten up and have fun with their kids while improving screen safety, you’ll see why Dr. B’s kids say she’s “the fun mom.”
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty
Fazal, M. (2018, May 08). Richard Dawkins Told Us What He Thinks About Memes. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/d35ana/richard-dawkins-told-us-what-he-thinks-about-memes
Green, Hank [SciShow Psych]. (2017, July 24). What makes a Meme Go Viral? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sANg0NyvVnk
Rogers, K. (2019, January 10). Meme. Retrieved March 1, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/meme
Skid, N. (2018, January 27). Salt Bae: How a butcher’s apprentice turned a sprinkle of salt into worldwide fame. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/26/this-is-how-salt-bae-became-the-most-famous-butcher-on-instagram-in-the-world.html
Free real estate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd4-UnU8lWY