The Meme Revolution Is Upon Us
Memes are the greatest thing to happen to the internet in the past 10 years. The look and feel of memes (pronounced meem, rhymes with team) has evolved considerably but the function is still the same: getting laughs and getting likes.
You are either a meme addict or a newby, but one thing’s for sure: you have been tagged in, or at least happened upon more than one meme this week. If you are one of the dwindling population that doesn’t know what a meme is…it’s one of those Instagram or Facebook posts that contains a photo and a humorous caption typed in plain text above it. A simple premise with myriad comic possibilities and a huge audience. The humor is found in not only the image, but what is done with the concept of the image. A photo of a dog looking out the window is cute. Adding a caption that says “Five minutes after ordering something on Amazon Prime” makes it a meme.
Meme accounts are some of the most widely clicked, shared and commented accounts on all of social media, and have tremendous influence on major trends in pop culture (Salt guy, anyone?). The same funny people that leave clever comments on YouTube videos and Facebook photos now have a forum where they can create their own material and share it with like-minded funny people.
Many accounts such as the legendary @thefatjewish and @fuckjerry have garnered tens of millions of followers by curating hilarious feeds of today’s funniest memes, but there are a select group of meme creators that actually come up with the stuff. It’s an inside group of the best and brightest…and because of this, they not only know of each other but collaborate, support and critique each other’s work both in the open and in side chats and DM groups. Picture the stand-up comedy scene of the 1980’s where Rosie O’Donnell and Jerry Seinfeld might be talking shop with Gilbert Gottfried and Jay Leno backstage at The Comedy Store. Like great stand-up comedy, great meming is a craft, and some people really excel at it.
One such prodigy is George Resch, AKA Instagram’s @Tank.Sinatra. “Memes are the quickest and most effective way to get a joke out of your head and into the minds of whoever follows you,” says Tank. He would know, he has over 800,000 rabid and loyal followers that are entertained daily by his off-the-cuff creations. He has even parlayed his popularity to a career as an author, publishing his first book, “Happy Is The New Rich” dropping in February 2017.
So how do they come up with this stuff? “Being painfully aware of my surroundings has been a gift and a curse my entire life,” Tank says. “I’m intensely observational because I don’t want to miss anything in this short lifetime I’ve been granted, so I’m never at a loss for material.”
Comedy through pain seems to be a theme that meme fans gravitate to, and the most popular accounts have mastered the art of self-deprecation. This is not a new concept, as most great comedians have had issues with depression and self esteem. By exposing that vulnerability it often becomes a source of comic gold. “Memes originally helped me manage depression and frustration,” says Reid Haley, AKA Instagram’s meme powerhouse, @ShitheadSteve_ , “I hated where I was at in life and felt like I didn’t have an outlet…So I just used humor as an outlet…and it is really fun to post weird shit that millions of people can relate to. I had no idea how many other people could relate to my micro-social situations.”
It’s clear that meme makers are tapping into the collective consciousness of an internet generation that may be disillusioned and frustrated, who feel a measure of relief when they discover that other people, even “internet celebrities” feel the same way. Reid continues, “it kinda gives you that ‘we’re all in this together’ feel, and I love that.”
So are memes here to stay? It looks that way. “Memes provide humor where you least expect it. They are the forbidden fruit of the modern age,” Greg DeBellas, AKA Instagram’s popular @highfiveexpert explains.
“Once you take a bite, you’re hooked.”