Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins first coined the term “meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. He defined it as an idea that self-replicates and spreads through society in the same way that a gene spreads a physical characteristic through a population of animals.
Fittingly, the internet meme is an excellent example of a “meme” as Dawkins originally defined it. These ideas, usually just a simple image with text, capture the imagination and quickly spread through the online world.
One of the first ever memes to go viral on the internet via e-mail chains was the dancing baby meme in 1996.
Now, countless memes are being created, bringing smiles, nose exhales, and laughter throughout the online world.
A meme is usually just a simple photo with text that can be altered to suit the needs of the poster.
Memes can also allow people to bond over common problems we all face.
Memes in 2019
Our 2019 Meme Review will take a look at some of this year’s most memorable memes.
First Guy To
The First Guy To meme shows a blinking Caucasian male in three panels. The first panel shows the man with opened eyes, the second show him with his eyes closed, and the third sees him with his eyes open again.
The meme usually follows the format shown below:
The original format itself is not all that funny, but, as often happens, the internet picked it up and ran with it. The format has seen many different hilarious iterations.
One variation serves as a sarcastic way to criticize the illogical claim that video games cause violence.
Woman Yelling at a Cat
One of the most popular memes of the year, the format features a two-panel image: On the left, an enraged blonde woman pointing her finger at an unseen person while her friend tries to calm her down, and on the right, a confused looking white cat at a dinner table.
The picture of the angry blonde is a snippet from a 2011 episode of the TV show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The confused cat photo is just a random image from a Tumblr user, which was originally captioned “he no like vegetals”.
These two pictures were no way related to each other, but they are now.
Here’s how it looks after the internet got a hold of it:
Mike Wazowski-Sulley Face Swap
Just as the face swapping fad finally started to fade, someone had the bright idea to face swap Sulley and Mike Wazowski of Monsters Inc.
With Sulley’s face, Mike looks disappointed and confused. Thus, another great meme was born.
This meme simply shows an image of Pikachu with his mouth open, looking surprised. It was then used to represent people who display disbelief at something they should have seen coming.
We Have Food at Home
Just about everyone can relate to this one. Who doesn’t remember asking their parents to go to McDonald’s, KFC, or any other popular restaurant, only to be told that “we have food at home”?
The meme shows the classic conversation between parent and child, followed by a ridiculous example or examples of the food available at home.
Everyone Liked That
In a world filled with violence, racism, wars, political scandals, and other bad news, uplifting news seems hard to come by. The prevailing attitude among mainstream media seems to be that bad news sells best. But a lot of people are fed up with this trend. The reddit community r/Wholesomememes has over 5.8 million members, and provides a steady stream of positive news.
In the popular video game Fallout 4, an “everyone liked that” message pops up every time the main character does something positive. Netizens use a screenshot of this message to highlight positive news stories.
Aside from spreading jokes and good news, memes can be a great way to raise awareness.
Team Trees is an internet movement that aims to plant 20 million trees by 2020. For every $1 donated, a tree will be planted. The collaborative effort was started by Youtubers Mark Rober and MrBeast and is supported by many celebrities.
A notable donator was Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, who contributed 1,000,000 trees (equivalent to $1 million).
The internet is showing its encouragement for Team Trees through memes:
Earlier this year, the trailer of the live-action Sonic The Hedgehog film was released. Sonic had human-like teeth and weird eyes. He looked nothing like the original cartoon, and fans were not happy.
Memes about how horrifying the new Sonic looked flooded the internet overnight, but thanks to Jim Carrey as Dr.Eggman, the movie still had hope.
Following the criticism, Paramount Pictures decided to take action.
Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren't happy with the design & you want changes. It's going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be… #sonicmovie #gottafixfast 🔧✌️
— Jeff Fowler (@fowltown) May 2, 2019
In November, the studio came up with a fresh look of Sonic in their new trailer. This time, the design much more closely resembled the original animation. The internet “meme’d” the studio into making a big change. And, hats off to Paramount for listening to their fans.
As this article is being written, some memes will have already become irrelevant and a lot of new ones will have already gone viral. Let’s hope the internet keeps on meme’ing with even more creative, hilarious, and influential memes in 2020. We’ll be back with another review this time next year!