The internet has spawned several new categories of communication and terminology – far beyond a simple text like “LOL” or ‘OMG.” If you want to stay on top of online culture, here’s a few concepts to discover.
A regular viewer of Jimmy Fallon may have seen a regular feature called ‘This week in Memes” – but do you know what a meme really is?
A ‘meme” is a funny image or short video from stock photos/footage, movies, or individuals, coupled with a clever caption that is copied, circulated online, and goes viral. (Another example of a meme is a phrase or bit of text coupled with a funny image). The meme usually spreads from one individual to another via text messages, social media posts, and email.
Memes have been around since the beginning of the new millennium and have gained so much ground and popularity there’s an online guide called “Know Your Meme” with images now considered “classic,” like ‘Distracted Boyfriend’ or videos like “David after Dentist.” Memes are now so prevalent that companies have begun using them to market their products, Facebook has added a meme generator to its interface, and apps/websites have been created so anyone can make make their own memes. A particular favorite for meme imagery is a still from the movie Office Space of character Bill Lumbergh (pictured above), with a caption ending with the phrase “…that’d be great.”
You may have heard of the term “GIF” (pronounced “JIF”). This is a type of meme, since it can become viral and is part of online culture. However a GIF is 1-2 second clip or graphic that may or may not have any words to provide context. The images are usually silly, and often hilarious – especially the ones with animals, like in this selection. To search the millions of GIFs that exist, click here.
Are memes the new emoticons?
When emoticons and emojis were first introduced, just about everybody was adding a smiley face to the end of their text messages or emails. As technology has progressed, they have become a standard in just about every form of digital communication. (Senior Planet even came up with some emojis; take a look here.) What about the hearts and fruit that you may see at the end of messages or Facebook posts? Yep, those are emoticons!
Here’s an example of how versatile emoticons can be:
Just like emoticons, memes have also become a standard in the way we communicate.
Senior Planet staff member Parshva Bavishi is someone who has hopped on the meme bandwagon and says it has completely changed how he talks to his friends and family. “Instead of sending a boring text message to someone on their birthday,” he says, “I look up birthday memes and send it to them. It’s like a digital birthday card! I also like to send memes during sporting events especially if my friends are rooting for my rival team.”
Whether you want a good laugh or just want to be colorful with how you communicate with family and friends, one thing is for sure, memes are here to stay!
Older people are mostly absent from most emojis; see Senior Planet’s suggestions for emoji’s for older people here.