The Meme Revolution

In the last week or so, I had my first meme experience. University students are always looking for increasingly elaborate ways to procrastinate: Sickipedia, DamnYouAutoCorrect and other amusing wastes-of-time are hugely popular at the moment. Students will do anything to avoid that seminar reading, grammar test, lab report or essay. (Yes, before you scream “HYPOCRISY”, I’m also guilty as charged here!) However, the newest craze to hit Warwick University has been our “University of Warwick Memes” group. In just over a week, 5200+ members have joined it, and at the time of writing this post, 1058 memes had been submitted.

God, I can’t believe the amounts of times this thought has occurred to me after a heavy night out… The beauty of memes is they can put across simple notions that have such universal appeal!

Before joining the group I had a vague awareness of memes, but since witnessing their popularity first-hand in the last week, I decided to look into them a bit more. Turns out, the word “meme” refers to an idea that copies itself and spreads around. In the internet age, this can generally refer to anything like songs, edited videos, cartoons: it’s just something that is shared by the online community, which aims to put across humour or an opinion.
The memes I have recently witnessed fit into the cartoon section. Usually, a photo or basic cartoon is annotated with lines of text. They can be hilariously funny. The Warwick ones are largely centred on plays-on-words involving the Koan (an infamous rotating sculpture outside our Arts Centre), the rivalry we share with Coventry University, or Science vs. Humanities student banter. I can see why they are so successful. They are very simple, satirise popular cultural images, and can be very witty. The money being made from posters of popular memes is apparently substantial. Some say you can even afford to live in the Bluebell accommodation at Warwick if you do particularly well… but I highly doubt that.
Anyway, after several wasted hours browsing through the memes page, I decided it was high time to try and create my own meme. To begin with I overestimated the complexity of producing a meme… I even went out of my way to acquire Adobe Photoshop from a very well-connected graphic designer friend of mine. However, it turns out that there are specific websites that generate memes with very minimal effort, such as http://memegenerator.net/ You just select the photo/meme background, input your text, click on a button and BAM, there’s your new meme. It really is that easy. Perhaps this goes even further towards explaining why they are so popular- anyone, even the most computer-illiterate among us, could quite easily pick it up. My meme virginity was lost to this little piece here:

Consideration for others.

I was quite pleased with it, it got quite a positive reception on the meme group page. Any uni student reading this will know how much of a relief it is when trawling through a particularly dull chapter, only for a series of ever-so-helpful underlinings to crop up, drawing you to the key info amid a sea of academic rambling. Nothing is more relieving than getting your seminar reading done in half the time, because your margin-note guardian angel has saved the day, once again.

So if you’ve got a spare few minutes on a lunch-break at work, are already pottering around on Facebook, or have decided to give yourself a well-earned break after writing that particularly tricky 11 word sentence in you essay due for tomorrow, browse some memes! There are some gems out there to be found. If you’ve made any particularly good memes, or stumbled across a gem yourself, please feel free to post links below.

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