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Introduction

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What is a Meme?

A meme is defined as an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation. In basic terms, it is a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

Origin

The word originates from the Greek word mimēma meaning 'that which is imitated,' and the English word meme, a neologism coined by Richard Dawkins, meaning "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture". The term originated from his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

Susan Blackmore, a British writer, places Internet memes in a subset called temes—memes which live in technological artifacts instead of the human mind.

Table 1: Popular Memes From 2014-2017
2017 2016 2015 2014
Mocking SpongeBob Exploding Kid Drake Dancing Apparently Kid
Roll Safe SpongeGar Left Shark Starter Packs
SaltBae Harambe Pizza Rat Pharrell's Hat
Whomst Kermit vs. Evil Kermit The Dress But That’s None of My Business
White Guy Blinking Arthur's Fist Netflix and Chill Ice Bucket Challenge

Note:

The term "Dank Memes," which surfaced around 2014, is an ironic expression used to describe online viral media and jokes that are intentionally bizarre or have exhausted their comedic value to the point of being trite or cliché. In this context, the word “dank,” originally coined as a term for high-quality marijuana, is satirically used as a synonym for “cool.” 1

The First Meme

Figure 1: "Moskau" by Dshinghis Khan Is Released
Dschinghis Khan

Although no one knows what the first meme is, it has been stated by worldhistoryproject.org that the first meme was produced in 1979, which was the release year of the single "Moskau" by Dshinghis Khan.

Dschinghis Khan was a German pop band, created in 1979 to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. The name of the band was chosen to fit the song of the same name, written and produced by Ralph Siegel with lyrics by Bernd Meinunger.

While the group broke up in the mid-1980s, the video for "Moskau" was a part of the show "Disco" on ZDF; as was their similarly-staged number "Dschinghis Khan". Moskau received popularity as an internet meme (largely through YTMND.com) starting in 2005 for its use of the melody and style of the Tetris theme song. 2

Footnotes

  1. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/dank-memes
  2. https://worldhistoryproject.org/1979/moskau-single-by-dshinghis-khan-is-released

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