Netizens, especially millennials and generation-Z, are head over heels for memes. But what are they?
In the middle of this year, an Indian tile showroom owner named Sahu took over the social media with his hilarious video of paragliding. Soon he became fodder for the meme artists.
Overflowing creativity came in the form of images, videos, and GIFs making him a meme sensation. This had made a simple guy from a small town a celebrity overnight.
Craze of memes
A meme is a popular word among netizens these days. Commonly, memes are some images of a person or animal (or it can be an object too) with a witty caption in it. Sometimes they refer to a regular or unusual situation you face in your daily life. Sometimes they portray your condition in those particular situations. The charm is you immediately relate to such memes when you see one.
They may come in the form of texts, videos or GIFs.
The trait is, the more relatable it is with your daily life, the sooner it gets "viral" on the internet.
Somehow, memes have successfully been able to express the very human emotions of everyday life such as joy, disgust, monotony, excitement or frustration.
There are times memes have produced the most popular catchphrases of time. The trick lies in how accurately you can relate your text with another image, video or GIF.
Millennials – the first generation that were exposed to the internet and social media – were also the first meme generation. Now it has gained popularity irrespective of age and class.
There are no certain topics for memes. If you have the humour in you, anything can be a meme matter.
For example, there is a meme series on "If Monday was a person." In this meme different artists have used different faces of people like Hilary Clinton, famous "Game of Thrones" character Jeffrey and Dolores Umbridge from "Harry Potter". Each time it was equally relatable and netizens had a good laugh.
Sometimes, memes became a communication tool among people or in bigger scenarios, companies.
For example, after the release of the popular Netflix web series Sacred Games 2 where the character Bunty mentioned the well-known Parle-G biscuit, memes showered in. In response, Parle-G, Netflix and Swiggy also took part in that meme bandwagon on social media.
There are times when memes spoke louder than seminars and heavy discussions. Memes on "#10years challenge" are proof of that.
In this challenge, you had to put a picture of your present self and collage it with one from ten years back to see how you have changed over the years – this too, soon, turned into a meme topic.
Besides hilarious memes on the concept, adjoining pictures of Amazon showed an alarming decrease of greenery in the last ten years.
Memes and communication
The Business Standard spoke with several youngsters who consider memes as their "life" or "an escape from the real monotonous world." One of them said memes do not just provide an escape from the real world, it is also a way of communication.
A college student explained how memes have become a folksy mean of entertainment to her. She said, "We have a very busy schedule. We do not have time for heavy novels. We tend to go for shorter forms of entertainment like terribly tiny tales or 10 words story."
Just like that, memes are easy-going and provides humour on an instant. Anyone can catch a glimpse of it while standing in a bus, sitting in an office desk or during a lecture and have a good laugh.
A meme artist who preferred to stay anonymous said, "In a world with constrained freedom of speech, memes can sugar-coat a serious topic and deliver it with satirical connotation." According to the artist, it works as a medium of protest.
Some of them even claimed it has become a new form of literature. One of the artists said, "It needs creativity to come up with an idea, a text which is humorous and attach it to such images that everyone can relate to it."
Abdullah Al Mamun, professor of English literature at the University of Rajshahi, was asked how he sees this culture of memes.
He said, "Memes do not have the aesthetic elements that a piece of literature or art should have. Thus we cannot compare it with them yet. But it is surely a part of pop culture practice. It can be a good research for cultural studies."
Saeid Hasan, a lecturer of Presidency University thinks, "It can be compared to the form of comics or cartoons." He added, "Knowing the context is important to understand a meme. Otherwise, it becomes offensive for those who are unaware of the background."