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Trailblazing research – young scientist seriously tackled the problems of internet memes

Posted October 21, 2017

That‘s it people, science has reached its peak. A new dissertation in University of York was written about our new form of communication and comedy – internet memes. Julian Porch, English graduate, looked into current meme situation and how it came to be, but also explored how memes affect the way people are communicating.

Internet memes might have started from Rage Comics. Image credit: Cult_87 via Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

This may seem weird and funny for many, but it is a serious research. Memes are a global phenomenon that not many scholars researched. We don’t even fully understand how memes work, actually, because it is a very new way of communication and expressing thought. In fact, internet memes are about community, which is exclusive against those who do not understand non-written rules and discourse created. It constantly builds upon itself. For example, Julian himself likes so called “post-ironic” memes that feature deliberately misspelled text, random images and generally absurd content. No one, who is not a part of this culture, would find these images funny, but people into memes understand their symbolism in a different way.

Julian Porch took a very serious academic approach to such a bizarre subject that not many scientists like. He analysed both negative and positive effects meme may have on young people. For example, while being ironic and absurd, memes are capable of engaging youth into political discussion and informing them about recent events. But then, of course, memes can be presented in many different ways – it may look like it is touching a serious topic, but it could be oversimplified and marginalized in young people’s eyes.

Author of this research says that memes have likely started with Rage Comics – primitive images displaying relatable and funny moments from life. Internet memes are already quite old, but Julian firmly believes that they are here to stay. And how could they disappear when they are so closely related to social media itself, which is definitely not going anywhere? Julian Porch said: “When responding to significant world events, memes can very simply encapsulate those situations, ideas, thoughts and feelings in an easily consumable medium. They satisfy both a desire for immediacy in an increasingly interconnected world and a wish to have a voice in those conversations”.

While headings of articles about this research could become memes themselves, it is a very much real matter of modern internet communication. It is a way for anyone in the world to be a comedic writer. As Youtube allows being a film creator, Airbnb – host and Uber – taxi driver, memes enable everyone to create something funny. And that is why they are worth researching.

Source: University of York

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