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The Universal "I"

~The Language of "Memes" & Social Media~

We see them everywhere.

We read them.

We speak them.

We share them.

We are them.

So, what are they? Memes! The ever-popular way of communicating on social media with a picture that holds more meaning than meets the eye. I have entire conversations with my mother using just memes and gifs, nothing else. We just sit there sending the pictures back and forth and LOLing like a couple of goofballs.

I'm reminded of the art of SMS Language which is essentially "texting" language or "textspeak"

aka the txt lang tht is mnt to cnvey the mst amt of meaning w the least amt of characters, omitting letters where u can bc txt msgs had a lmt of 160 characters.

If you could read that, you already understand and speak SMS Language. Like I mentioned, the original "texts" or Short Message System had a limit of exactly 160 characters, so it was very necessary to abbreviate and limit the amount of characters in a single message. You'll find the italicized message above follows protocol.

Anyway, similar to SMS Language, "memes" convey a vast amount of meaning in the simplest of form. You're probably thinking to yourself don't all pictures do this? Perhaps. That's a whole new avenue to explore and believe me, I'll explore it sometime soon. So then, what is so special about memes?! The answer lies within the definition...

meme: a unit of cultural information, as a concept, belief, or practice, that spreads from person to person by nongenetic means, especially imitation

In other words, memes are their own language because they are packed with meaning and information that is shareable among a group of people.

If you think about it, there are many different ways to interpret the unspoken in an art from such as a picture. There is usually only one true intended way to interpret and receive a meme, because a meme is meant to invoke the same meaning for everyone.

We see memes and we instantly relate (most of the time) and it creates this sense of connectedness among people all over the world. All it takes is an image, or a short phrase or sequence of words that are culturally relevant and we have this instantaneous, communal sense of "self."

Let me show you some examples. Here are two examples of the different ways memes appear.

Example 1.

What we have here is...

1. a media reference (in this case, a captioned screen grab of Michael Scott from the American version of The Office)

2. A sudden dialogue between "them" and "me"

With just these elements, we have ourselves a meme that is guaranteed to make The Office fans LOL.

Example 2.

In another example we have...

  1. that same sudden dialogue, this time between "nobody" and an "influencer"

That's it. That's all it takes. I have to admit, this one made me LOL, too. I understand the potential generational gap here, but if you're someone who is TikTok and/or Instagram savy, you totally get this.

Between these two examples you'll start to see a formula; that sudden dialogue as I like to call it + some type of reference to pop culture = the near-omniscient reader who becomes the "me." We all become the "me" in a meme. That "me" is the part of the meme that spreads from person to person by imitation instantaneously.

This same concept goes beyond memes, and becomes a part of how we speak on social media. We're constantly speaking in that same universal language whenever we take to social media to share information that we want others to relate to.

This "me" that I'm speaking of is what I like to call The Universal "I" - mostly because "I" sounds better than "me" (remember, I'm an English teacher), and because we all see the same thing when we experience the meme. We all hear our own voices when we read one of those sudden dialogue memes. Think about it. How many of us have shared a meme on social media and captioned it "LOL this is so me."

You see what I meme? (:

We've ALL been there.

We see it everywhere.

We read it.

We speak it.

We share it.

We are The Universal "I"

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06 Ιαν 2021

Yaaaas, I’d also like to explore the opposite! Yes becoming yaaaaas or so becoming soooooooooo 😃 bc I use both combined alllllll the time! Plus I had to post a meme...or three 😜 duhhhhh

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