Memes: How to laugh about social change

In this era, memes are our sidekicks for criticizing or laughing about an specific issue. They are the star of our internet pop culture because instant communication facilitates word of mouth transmission which is the essence of this phenomenon.

As soon as a public relevance event is happening or a massive action is taking place, memes start spreading through social media until they go viral. There is not an explanation or a receipt about how to make the perfect meme but it can be said that concise concepts mixed with hilarious images are a path to follow. 

The term was created by the scientist Richard Dawkins and its adaptation to Internet reality condenses the idea about what we popular named as meme. Meme is the minimum unit of information that can be transmitted. According to this author, memes are the mental base of our culture, as well as gens are the base of our live.

Memes can be based on photo, videos or graphs. One of the most powerful aspects about them as a communication tool is that anybody can create one. We do not need specific or technical knowledge to make one. Memes do not need to be specially beautiful or complicated, on the contrary they need to be simple and emotional to catch attention and generate identification on a particular group. Based on that idea, they have become a great option for the communities with low representation on traditional media to create their own viral messages.

At the same time, as dark humor is a well-known, effective strategy to laugh about complicated issues, memes enable to raise awareness of the society about issues that many would rather not speak about it. In this case, they engender an opportunity to rethink and reflect. Specifically, the meme that illustrates this post make us consider how aid is managed and from which paradigma development projects work.

It’s important to consider that memes can be used for harassment as well as for furthering hate speech and disinformation about various social groups. They can reproduce racist or sexist message but with the same content they can create the opposite effect and become a strategy to show the preconceptions we have as society.

Internet is a massive transmissor of cultural information. The question is how to use this in order to impact on building a better world. Memes can be a great tool for social change and for deconstructing cultural beliefs from a sarcastic point. By understanding that a meme is an idea, memes can be used to generate social change, from empowering women to creating thoughts about how international aid is used.

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