Nowadays a meme is usually a photo with a concise remark that resonates with the most people. A meme is intended to go ‘viral’, meaning distributed by private individuals en-mass until it becomes a mass media item noted as a sensation on social media – because it uses the internet to be disseminated it is an internet based ‘vehicle’. Comparable phenomenons such as ‘urban legends’ and ‘conspiracy theories’ do not rely on the internet (they rely more on word-of-mouth or video footage). The multi-media nature of the internet makes this point confusing.
Technically anyone with basic multi-media knowledge can attempt to create a successful or viral meme. Facebook even has a template for every end-user to do this.
One of the more productive meme was started by journalist Jeff Jarvis who wrote a review of Dell Computer’s customer service it epitomized the idea of a meme; concise, perfect and couldn’t be better put.
And the New York Times picked up the story. Then Business Week. Dell suddenly did not just have an angry customer on their hands. They almost overnight had a huge public relations firestorm to put out. (source)
An authentic meme is still difficult to manufacture because it has to resonate with truth, but the prevalence of ‘artificial’ networks on the internet can disseminate a meme like litter instead of information. With e-commerce usually on the back-end of most memes, many memes are used to get in the consumer’s wallet – the meme offers itself up for entertainment value in exchange for the consumer’s interest. The effectiveness of Jeff Jarvis’ complaint to Dell and its ensuing press coverage set the meme in full swing for all sorts of activity beyond Jeff Jarvis’ original customer complaint.
The cover image is courtesy of Pixabay, where many other images are also free.