“Make Memes, not War.”
An Internet meme is a concept or idea that spreads virally from one person to another via the Internet. Memes are a public good, non-rival in consumption and non-excludable, and as such are governed by the laws of Meme economics, and the laws of supply and demand.
About 8 months ago, the Anti-Defamation League had declared Pepe the Frog as a Hate Symbol after people used it to display anti semitic and Neo-Nazi rhetoric. A post regarding this on reddit led to a thread where Redditors envisioned a comical idea of viewing Memes as stocks. A subreddit /r/MemeEconomy was born, and within 12 hours, an army of 2025 subscribers was primed with 103 posts. It describes itself as “a place where individuals can buy, sell, share, make, and invest in memes freely. You’ll also get updates on the market and be able to collaborate with other fellow dank meme traders.” On this rather odd forum, users speculate which memes are on the rise and to be invested in, and which ones are to be dumped.
The value of a meme hinges on largely 3 things:
- Range of circulation and Variations (Mutability/Adaptability).
- Odds of becoming a ‘Normie’ Meme. (More on this soon)
(Normies—The bulk of the internet users largely restricted to the mainstream media. They are the hump of the Bell curve. This term often has derogatory connotations, and used to describe the average Joe who never explored the dankness of the wild web.)
Users post memes spotted on the web, and ask if it’s valuable and worth investing.
Other users advise to BUY (invest) or SELL according to the above parameters. If it’s to die, seize to produce or collect any more. ROI (Return on Investment) includes Reddit Karma, FB likes, Followers on Twitter etc. There is a supply and demand for memes, and these analysts spend countless hours understanding the trends and forecasting the futures of these memes.
In this spirit, a team of 12 Redditors led by Brandon Wink and Ron Vaisman have built a stock market for dank memes, treating them as commodities and quantifying them. The beta version of NASDANQ is already live. Underlying NASDANQ stocks are algorithms scrutinising the meme’s popularity and performing Sentiment analysis.
Unlike real markets where stock values rise with popularity, a Meme’s value plummets once it goes mainstream. Users advice to ‘SELL’ such memes or risk sinking your portfolio as it reaches normie status. You know it’s lost it’s value when even your mom knows about it!
Judging by a depressing and dismal 2016, Wink reckons this is high time to invest in Wholesome memes. An official launch of the site is about to happen by December.
A Meme is any cultural idea that spreads between people and societies. In all their gleeful lightheartedness, memes are not merely digital amusements. They have a social and cultural impact. This is clearly displayed by the 2016 U.S presidential elections and the rise of the Alt-Right in the past few years. Some might argue that the Americans literally memed a person into the presidency! An army of trolls and fake news propagators used these ecosystems to engineer pro-Trump and anti-Clinton sentiments using memes designed to gain maximum traction in mainstream media. And we are witness to their success, for the 2016 U.S elections was dominated by memes at all turns. The term ‘Meme’ in this context does not merely refer to internet media snippets, but also resonating ideas spread across a faction of society. And factual truth comes second to any idea that compels and concurs with a person. Thus, the rise of fake news happened, where the assertions echoed with the viewer’s beliefs, and truth didn’t matter.
The Wild Web is a realm of remix culture. Pre existing ideas and concepts are mutated, combined and ‘remixed’ into a new creative work. This is an ideal breeding ground for Memes of all kind. They typically originate on message boards or forums(like 4chan) frequented by users who format any sort of an article(Image, Video, Gif etc.) for amusing themselves. Potentially viral ones end up on wider platforms like Reddit and Tumblr, where the majority of users are Normies, at the helm of the Online trend wagon. These sites filter out the mediocre ones and the selected few end up on platforms like Facebook and Twitter used by almost everyone.At every stage, the different memes might be constantly mutated and result in a lot of variations usable in multiple contexts.(Such diversity is important for a meme to survive longer.)
It’s a feature of the digital age that anything critical can be made into an amusing form and viral to consume, with relative ease. Not the least of it being politics. The number of Modi and Trump memes have proliferated, just like the number of Trump supporters (Nah, just kidding!). Making fun of politicians serves as a release valve for our frustrations and makes the difficult truths easy to digest.
This is truly a liberating ecosystem, but freedom is clichéd. There are always 2 sides to the coin. Racism, Homophobia and Misogyny etc. are few negative ideas that memes have been used to perpetuate. Memes are a medium of social commentary and are at their best when used to comment on political and social environment of our world. They are rather impactful in shaping opinions, and this doesn’t seem to change course. The potential to affect positive social change is endless and let’s not forget it all started with a simple image and a text.
Cover Designed by Apurva Chinta
Edited by Harsha Sista
Article Written by Khalid Riyaz