Meme History: How Memes Started

How did meme start?

MEME – Here is a brief history of memes, who started them, and how they became so popular on the internet, especially on social media.

Memes are among the common terms online. Many netizens, or users of the internet, are using these and people can also create their own memes through a meme generator or a meme maker. There are several memes that have circulated all over the world already.

The most common subject in memes are celebrities and sometimes even normal people who went trending or controversial online became subjects. There are memes that linger while there are those that are short-lived.

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Based on the article in Mental Floss, the term “meme” was coined by English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. He proposed in his 1976 nook The Selfish Gene that ideas can be like organisms, where they could breed and mutate. Dawkins also claimed that these ideas are the basis for human culture, and they are born in the brain.

His research was primarily in genetics. Dawkins pushed the idea that all life relies on replication. However, unlike cells, ideas do not rely on a chemical basis for survival. Ideas begin from a single location which is the brain and then, they spread outward, jumping from one vessel to another, battling for attention.

In his concept, some ideas are more successful, and this might be because of the element of truth they carry and others slowly die out. There are ideas that may not be accurate but society has accepted these ideas for so long that they are just accepted eventually.

Dawkins was finding the right name for this concept and so he proposed to call it mimeme. The term is from the Greek word meaning “that which is replicated.” In his book, he wrote, “I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme.” He added that for consolation, the term can be “related to ‘memory,’ or to the French word même. The word is pronounced like “cream.”

Dawkins did not foresee that it could be a viral term in the generation of the internet. However, he said in an interview that he has now accepted the fate of the term he coined.

Here’s a video created by BBC about memes.

Another idea that amazed even the people in the medical field is the placebo effect.

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