What Is a Meme?


What is a Meme?

Memes are ideas or concepts that spread rapidly through online social networks, typically through pictures, video clips, or phrases that resonate with audiences and are relatable to their experiences. Meme popularity depends on whether its message resonates with people.

Richard Dawkins first coined the term “meme” in 1976 and defined it as a cultural unit spread from person to person through imitation, with successful memes reaching millions of people over time. Sometimes, multiple memes will use one image or video file, allowing them to evolve gradually over time.

Memes typically consist of an iconic image or video paired with an amusing caption or phrase that captures an idea or feeling quickly and efficiently. They’re widely used as forms of social commentary as well as to show support or disapproval for specific events and trends, making memes highly versatile tools.

Memes can be an engaging form of entertainment and sharing with friends, but just like any form of culture, they can be subject to misinterpretation by some and misinterpreted by others. Therefore, people must remain aware of how memes operate and how others may interpret them.

Memes can be complex to keep up with, making it challenging to remain abreast of trends. Memes tend to come and go in popularity over time; what might have been famous last week may no longer hold your interest today. Regardless, some basic principles will help you identify whether a meme is real or fake.

An actual meme is original and has the potential to go viral, being easily relatable and amusing, appealing to a broad spectrum of internet users, with an individual visual style that distinguishes it from similar memes; also capable of capturing moments or feelings such as nostalgia, anger or wanting something.


Memes function like genes in that they spread and replicate through imitation, but unlike genes, they often become corrupted through misinterpretation and distortion. Each person who shares a meme will put his or her spin and interpretation onto it–often leading to hilarious results like when people repeat, “This ain’t about him.” “This Ain’t About Him” has become such a viral meme it has even its own Wikipedia entry!

Memes can often be complex to track down their exact source, yet it’s always fascinating to observe their development over time. Take, for instance, the Drake head-turning meme which first surfaced on Reddit’s /r/AnimalCrossing forum in November 2017, gaining widespread traction almost instantly – although its original clip was shot back in 2013 by Drew Scanlon while working for Giant Bomb video game show Unprofessional Fridays at that time.

Similar to its online manifestation, the “tough guy entering a room” meme began as an image uploaded to iStock of Jawad Bendaoud — known for his role in the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks — two years prior to becoming viral online. While its online incarnation may be far-fetched, its real-life counterpart remains fascinating.


Memes can be created from just about anything, but their main goal should be to make them relatable and shareable. Brands can use this format to reach their audience with fun and creative content – Kai Collective did just this by taking the “This Ain’t About Him” meme and customizing it by adding their print tops as part of it to make their custom meme, which highlights them and their products.

Sammy Grimer made waves in 2016 when his picture of himself smiling and saying “Success” went viral, becoming an iconic image that characterized people who had achieved great success but were lacking genuine emotions. Money raised from this meme went towards paying for Grimer’s father’s kidney transplant surgery – a fantastic use for memes!

Dunkin‘ Donuts used this meme to introduce their newly introduced product line side-by-side. By including their logo in the top right corner, they ensured their name would stay at the forefront when sharing this image further.