History of Memes

An example of the meme Bad Luck Brian, joking about an incident in Journalism this year.

An example of the meme ‘Bad Luck Brian”, joking about an incident in Journalism this year.

Natori Cruz, Editor

Internet memes have been a part of surfing the web since the early 2000s. Memes are typically photos with funny captions to enhance the hidden humor in the original image. Memes can also be websites, viral videos, and parodies. They have a large history that dates back all the way to the 1870s. Photographer Harry Whittier Frees took pictures of his cats and turned them into greeting cards by adding funny captions. Richard Dawkins defined memes in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, explaining that memes are used to explain the way cultural information spreads. Dawkins had compared memes to genes and evolution; they can become extinct or grow with society. Christopher Poole, the creator of the imageboard website 4chan, has been known as the creator of the memes we see today. Since 2003, his website has been the original site for a large portion of the memes out currently.

An example of a meme is LOLcats; memes that use cats and improper grammar captions. LOLcats first made its appearance on the website 4chan in 2006. Ermahgerd, a fairly recently meme like LOLcats, became popular for being captioned on silly pictures of animals. Other memes include Epic Fail!, Rickrolling, This is Sparta, I Regret Nothing, Bad Luck Brian, and Y U No Guy. Though a large portion of the popular memes are images, there is one other type of meme everyone knows. Gangnam Style by Korean rapper PSY is actually considered a meme because of the humor that made the video go viral, the most viewed and most popular one out today.

Over the years, memes have developed from simple postcards to online phenomena. Memes have hit the Internet, they’ve changed our boring lives and helped us find humor within a few phrases.  Don’t think that memes will stop making us laugh anytime soon; they will continue to evolve with our society and help form pop culture as well.