14.8.1 Memes in Internet culture
Internet memes are material propagated through e-mail and Internet forums. Web sites such as 4chan, Digg, b3ta, Something Awful, Youtube, YTMND and Fark have become major hubs in spreading Internet memes.
The term Internet meme is a phrase used to describe a catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the Internet. The term is a reference to the concept of memes, although this concept refers to a much broader category of cultural information.
At its most basic, an Internet meme is simply the propagation of a digital file or hyperlink from one person to others using methods available through the Internet (for example, email, blogs, social networking sites, instant messaging, etc). The content often consists of a saying or joke, a rumour, an altered or original image, a complete website, a video clip or animation, or an offbeat news story, among many other possibilities. An Internet meme may stay the same or may evolve over time, by chance or through commentary, imitations, and parody versions, or even by collecting news accounts about itself. Internet memes have a tendency to evolve and spread extremely quickly, sometimes going in and out of popularity in just days.
The term may refer to the content that spreads from user to user, the idea behind the content, or the phenomenon of its spread. Internet memes have been seen as a form of art. The term is generally not applied to content or web services that are seen as legitimate, useful, and non-faddish, or that spread through organized publishing and distribution channels. Thus, serious news stories, videogames, web services, songs by established musical groups, or the like are usually not called Internet memes.
One common form of Internet meme is created when a person, company, product, musical group, or the like is promoted on the Internet for its pop culture value. Memes usually start out as a simple phrase or word that people think are “cool” such as the very popular meme “fail” or “epic fail”. Then, it infinitely expands through texts, emails and blogs. Friends send it to friends, who send it to their friends, who send it to their friends and penpals until the whole world knows about the now fully fledged meme.
14.8.3 Inadvertent celebrity
Often, a person or company becomes infamous (or indeed famous) by virtue of an embarrassing video, e-mail, or other act. Examples include Star Wars Kid, Brian Peppers, Danny “Tourette’s Guy”, Chocolate Rain, Chris Crocker, the Numa Numa dance and Leeroy Jenkins.
14.8.4 Urban rumours and hoaxes
Many Internet memes are urban legends, fraud schemes, slander or false news stories that are either planted deliberately to become an Internet meme, evolve by mistake or rumour, or that jump from an offline source to the Internet.
14.8.5 Advertising and marketing
Public relations, advertising, and marketing professionals have embraced Internet memes as a form of viral marketing to create marketing “buzz” for their product or service. Internet memes are seen as cost-effective, and because of their (sometimes self-conscious) faddishness, a way to create an image of cleverness or trendiness. Marketers, for example, use Internet memes to create interest in films that would otherwise not generate positive publicity among critics. Political operatives use Internet memes to shape opinion. Used in the context of public relations, the term would be more of an advertising buzzword than a proper Internet meme, although there is still an implication that the interest in the content is for purposes of trivia, ephemera, or frivolity rather than straightforward advertising and news.
14.8.6 Image editing
Perhaps the most popular Internet memes are made by editing images (pictures, drawings, portraits, etc.) because of the ease that editing an image implies; these kinds of Internet memes acquire a broad significance rapidly because they can be shared easily over the Internet. These images usually depict a same original image edited or modified in several ways. Another trend is to create a totally new image or version of the original concept. Many of these images originate from sites such as heavily-frequented internet forums.
14.8.7 Video remixing
A currently popular trend is to remix any particular video in a way that is appealing or amusing to the audience. This is generally done by picking out choice scenes, or rearranging certain scenes to create new scenarios or dialogue, although there are also instances where video is remixed to fit with music.
14.8.8 References to pop culture
Often internet memes will include references to current items of pop culture, such as popular movies, celebrities or news.