Without you, there’s no meme.

A meme, as it turns out, is more than just a funny image with some text.

If you have spent even several minutes on any social media platform, you are likely to have encountered images of celebrities, pop culture objects and/or situations paired with context-appropriate words. This was what my general understanding of a meme was before watching the Susan Blackmore TED talk on memes and “temes” (technological memes) a couple weeks ago. While the above examples can indeed be included in the category of memes, essentially a meme isan idea, behavior, style or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture” (Merriam-Webster). In other words, memes need YOU to replicate them and to exist (no pressure). Language, religion and hand gestures are also just some of the countless memes in the world that are passed on and replicated over and over again.


One example of a meme that I particularly enjoy includes McKayla is Not Impressed.The meme includes American gymnast McKayla Maroney who competed in the 2012 London Olympics and received a silver medal in the Women’s Vault Final (to her dismay). The photograph is of her standing atop a podium with a scowl (upturned pursed lips), holding her small bouquet of flowers and a silver medal around her neck. This frank moment was captured and shared in the BuzzFeed article McKayla Maroney Falls, Lets Out Her Inner “Mean Girl” on August 6, 2012 which helped spark the McKayla is Not Impressed Tumblr blog launched the very next day.

Not Impressed Meme

Photo from: http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/370906-mckayla-is-not-impressed

Why did this image become a meme?

From a technical standpoint, the image is easy to Photoshop, manipulate and “mashup” with other images and text. From a cultural standpoint, the image represents a relatable emotion of disappointment and physical expression of dismay. The meme also has universality and its original manifestation was timely and visually appealing (especially from a news/media point of view). Whether it is an image of a less-than-pleased US gymnast, or the English language spoken by millions upon millions around the world, for something to become “meme-able” I believe it has to have at least some of the above characteristics and perhaps even a sense of uniqueness and social relevancy.

Creating my own Meme:

With the above characteristics of “meme-ability” in mind, I created the Rebel Flower Meme. A simple image of a garden of flowers with a single “sore thumb”, I used a photo editing app (Photo Editor Pro) to circle the red flower and write “REBEL” in bold red. I created this mashup considering shared experiences of “standing out” or “being different”. Due to its simplicity and relevancy, this image can also be re-tooled so that the text itself can be used on top of other images of “rebels” or the image can have other captions such as “LONER”, “JUST A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK” or “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT”.


Rebel Flower Meme

Photo by: Katrina Valenton

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post on memes! Please leave a comment below or Tweet me at @KatrinaValenton and let me know what you think of my “Rebel Flower Meme”!

Post written by Katrina Valenton on Tuesday November 3rd, 2015

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