Are Memes a New Language?

In the digital age, share content it is the simplest thing in the world: in a few clicks certain information can be released with almost immediate speed. All of this is a step up from the old ways of sharing information, such as face-to-face, messengers, or newspapers.

The social media They are the ones that have contributed the most to this new form of communication, connecting millions of people at all times. And it is this constant presence that gives way to the expression of feelings and sensations, be they happy or sad. But they are not always transmitted verbally, but through the use of memes.

Memes are a social media phenomenon They are intended to spread humor, but does this definition do them justice? Or are they much more?

Table of Contents

What are memes?

Currently, the memes they are conceived as a funny way of dealing with the various situations of people’s daily lives. The idea of ​​these is to find some simile that perfectly represents the reality that can be experienced by many. They are a performance.

The word meme comes from the Greek word mimema, which means “that which is imitated.” By imitating and make fun of everyday situations they become long-lived, reaching a greater number of people.

It may seem like a light question, but memes have impacted culture so much that there are studies on them. The Internet has been characterized by its ephemeral contentBut memes challenge this because they are innovative, so varied that they appeal to everyone.

Its expandability is based on the cultural and social understanding towards them; that is, in your references. It seems that they have no limits, being a phenomenon in every sense of the word.

How are they used?

If something have the memes it is versatility. They do not fit into a single format or a single type of expression. Can be found in:

Images: perhaps the most common way to find them. The classics are characterized by being of poor quality and with texts in white letters that imply what the image wanted to express. The image is usually a screenshot of a scene from a movie, or an illustration made for that specific purpose. Sarcastic, ironic and iconic.

The new ones lack the white letters, now the simple image is enough to give to understand what it wants to reflect. In a certain part they are simpler: now a photograph of a celebrity making a facial expression expresses such a clear feeling that it goes viral.

Videos: If images are the most common way to find them, videos are the easiest (and most entertaining) way to understand them. They are usually scenes from a movie, interview snippets or the famous, although now extinct, 6-second Vines; as long as they represent a specific situation that is repeated in the daily lives of others.

Editing the videos provides a plus, giving the possibility of adding elements to better express your message.

Phrases: These have a strong presence since they describe in a textual way what the images represent. This makes them very versatile, since viral phrases can come from everywhere (videos, interviews, songs, among others).

Items – Sounds weird, but items can become memes too. An example of this is fidget spinners, just like this article says. They reach that state thanks to the way they are popularized, with collective ideas and an imaginary behind that evolves from person to person.

The new language of the 21st century

Before explaining why memes are the new language of the 21st century, a couple of things need to be understood: what is language Y how the language comes to be used.

The definition of language can be summarized as the ability of living beings to communicate with each other. This communication is subject to interpretation, and this is where (in the case of humans) a word can get different meanings.

The internet language it has a very particular quality: it is totally mutable, either in its pure form or taken out of context. It transforms with use; each person uses it in their own version. And the new generations are more exposed to adopt this language due to the hours they surf the web and in the 2.0 world.

It is interesting to note that language gives validity to something when there is a representation of it. To quickly exemplify with a common situation: the umami flavor.

Before, the taste of tomato could not be described, nor the taste of cheese, nor of meat without seasonings. These flavors lacked definition by themselves, until the word umami came to specify them.

The same happens with the emotions, sensations, feelings and expressions; they have validity when they are defined, when they are represented. And here the memes have crept into our jargon because of their expressive quality and their ability to be related, to be identified.

If someone is feeling happy, a picture can represent their emotion perfectly. If someone is surprised, a video of some reaction could symbolize their expression. This is possible as long as there is a point of reference between both parties in a conversation.

The transmission of ideas that was previously done using sayings can now be done through memes, taking their same properties as reinterpretation according to the person.

Memes are cross-cultural, as people around the world share them because they understand their references. This new way of communication is one of the few that has managed to connect cultures in the same way that music does.

It is certain that in the future memes will continue to appear everywhere, since anyone can create them and roll them on the web. It is as if the dictionary of this new language had no entry limits, always growing and always with a new comic reaction that will captivate the world… until the next one arrives.

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