Internet culture affects us all, in one way or another. Your students share more photos online in a day than emails you receive in a week! A lot of those pics are “memes” and represent a culture that is not going to go away! What is a meme? Never heard of it? Read on!
From Wikipedia : “A meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem) is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme.”
Another Wikipedia article : “An Internet meme (/ˈmiːm/ MEEM) is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the Internet. Some notable examples include posting a photo of people lying down in public places (called “planking”) and uploading a short video of people dancing to the Harlem Shake.
A meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. An Internet meme may take the form of an image, hyperlink, video, picture, website, or hashtag. It may be just a word or phrase, including an intentional misspelling. These small movements tend to spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, direct email, or news sources. They may relate to various existing Internet cultures or subcultures, often created or spread on sites such as Reddit, Tumblr and numerous others, or by Usenet boards and other such early-internet communications facilities. Fads and sensations tend to grow rapidly on the Internet, because the instant communication facilitates word-of-mouth transmission.”
A good place to start is by educating yourself on popular memes, their origins and meanings and how they are used today to convey an idea or opinion on something. Go and take a look at this web site : Know Your Meme
You will find hundreds of memes, most with explanations of their origin and use. It makes a good discussion topic for your students. Please be aware that a lot of memes are not “safe viewing” and may have offensive language and pictures. Familiarise yourself first and select the most popular acceptable ones you can use in class!
Here are a bunch I made myself for C.A.T. and teachers, just for fun.