A meme's eye view
The grumpy cats, South Park characters and Honey Boo Boos (to name only a few) of the Internet are trying to tell you something. No, don’t you dare ignore them, because they will find you. They are trying to propogate themselves and spread from brain to brain.
If you can still remember the definition of data visualisation, you are indeed in good company as memes represent information or ideas that are (as previously stated) shared amongst Internet users. This is also the case with data visualisation.
You should know by now that data visualisation does not only entail infographics, maps and charts, but also the effective use of text and images conveying a message to the public.
Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist, was merely writing about a cultural idea in his book, The Selfish gene (1976), when memes decided to randomly become the talk of the town (or rather the Internet).
Memes are cultural ideas that can be transmitted through fashion, comics, music, videos, technologies etc. In the long run, they evolve into trends that people start following. These trends, however, become way too popular to my liking. After a few days, no seconds, no miliseconds, memes turn into something that everyone wishes they had never shared in the first place.
But, it’s not so funny anymore when memes turn something virtuous and pure into something evil and bad. Atheist users of the online platform Reddit, for example, are out to get Muslim people as they constantly comment on religious content on Facebook.
Whether you like it or not, memes have value and are able to sustain their popularity.
- Fidelity: We know by now that memes can be transferred to people via the Internet. However, you do not know that websites, encouraging the creation of memes, exist. Websites like Memegenerator, Quickmeme and Memecentre encourage the creation of memes by using text and images in order to convey a certain cultural message. These platforms, however, store millions of memes on the Internet where users can choose to view, share or even just rate them.
- Fecundity: Memes must have the ability to reproduce themselves. Obviously, social network platforms have made this possible as you can send memes to others by the click of a button. This, however, poses problems as content becomes overly cheap, commodified and overshared. Before long these memes are likely to die a painful death.
- Longevity: If people come in contact with a meme, they are likely to share it if they want to send a message to others. So, it has the ability to stay alive and well on the Internet.
The image illustrates an example of a meme. Image sourced from visitmix.com.
In the next post on data visualisation, I'll be examining why data visualisation cannot always be trusted.