Memes: Can We Take Them Seriously?

Humor as a political weapon – The phenomenon of memes 

The term “meme” was introduced by biologist Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene (1976). As part of his larger effort to apply evolutionary theory to cultural change, Dawkins defined memes as small cultural units of transmission, analogous to genes, that spread from person to person by copying or imitation.

Internet memes can be treated as (post)modern folklore, in which shared norms and values are constructed through cultural artifacts such as photoshopped images or urban legends. Lynne S. McNeill

According to Shifman, what Internet users seemed to have grasped—and Richard Dawkins couldn’t have imagined back in 1976—is that the meme is the best concept to encapsulate some of the most fundamental aspects of the Internet. Three main attributes ascribed to memes are particularly relevant to the analysis of contemporary digital culture: 

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