What is a meme?
Memes are broadly defined as culturally transmitted information, ideas, and beliefs that spread across a community. An Internet meme is a concept or idea that spreads "virally" on the internet and could be anything from an image to an email or video file; however, the most common meme is an image of a person or animal with a funny or witty caption. They can be humorous, ironic, subversive, or serious. Memes allow people to share “in the moment dialog” about an issue that’s current by re-appropriating and remixing content to make it their own.
Why think about Memes?
Memes provide an engaging way for young people participate in online expression. They help keep us current to what people are saying and are easy and entertaining ways to communicate information. Memes also follow a popular internet speech format that incorporates sparse text while leaning heavily on visual connections. By creating and critiquing memes, students can improve their creativity and expression.
Create memes about social, cultural, and political issues.
Create commentary and understand how spreadable content through culture/comedic forms can shape media discourse.
Understand how to read the rhetorical language of memes.
Increase students ability to participate in conversations.
Reflect on the role that memes play in expression, sharing, and participation today.
Things to Think About
Students will have the chance to explore the motivations of the people who make memes, what makes them go viral, and how they become re-produced.
Concept of a Meme
Students will evaluate the way popular meme templates are perceived in the larger online environment and the narratives they carry with them.
Transfer for Knowledge
Students will have the chance to create their own memes and in the process learn how their own bias and ideas are perceived by others.
Students will reflect on the way’s visual and textual content can be combined to evoke different emotions in viewers and contexts.
Key Questions to Ask
What was the purpose of this meme and why did it convey this description?
Think about intention, design, and structure of the meme.
Is either the visual or text of this meme offensive, inappropriate, or disturbing?
Most media messages are created for a reason, yet sometimes people make memes to simply “troll” others.
How might people understand this meme differently?
People experience the same media message differently.
Have I communicated my purpose effectively using this meme?
The way the author perceives their message and the way the message is perceived by an audience is not always the same.
What creative techniques are used to attract attention?
Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules, history, and rhetoric.
What communities or ideas is the meme contributing to?
Media makes up the fabric of civic life, and information is at the core of community dialog.