System Analysis: Meme Creation

In the Digital Age, we have seen a skyrocket in the amount of liking, loving, retweeting, reposting, etc. We spread ideas through our shared posts and articles from random websites like “” and “”

However, our largest, most accessible way of sharing ideas, and especially making commentary on the current state of world affairs, is through–you guessed it–memes.


First, we take either an issue or a funny pop culture moment. We add a caption. The meme spreads, reaches new depths and dives into new realms of things like political and social commentary. Sometimes it’ll go too far or be taken over by white nationalists, like the famous Pepe the Frog was. Then the meme reaches this interesting point. It gets so popular that it becomes shunned to use it–it’s not cool anymore–and then it reaches my personal favorite point, the point of ironic usage. People start making memes that reference the meme, meta-memery, and we get into a phase so niche, so select, that the jokes can be referenced with single word. Then we enter the post-ironic phase. This is after most of the ironic usage has died out, but it is revived either ironically or seriously and becomes so ridiculously intertwined within itself that no one can tell what is a joke anymore. The meme, no matter how old or dead, can always be revived in this way.


For example, every meme on this 2012 list from Buzzfeed would be considered absolutely dead, but I see it far within the realm of possibility for these memes to come back in a post-ironic stage.

the evolution of a now dead af meme

So let’s go over the elements of how this works as a system:

  • Funny moment in pop culture/commentary on something
    • this is the instantiation of a meme
  •  Social media, ranked in terms of meme potency
    • Higher level social media, highest to lowest
      • Reddit
      • Tumblr
      • Twitter
    • Lower level social media, highest to lowest
      • Facebook (where the mothers lurk)
      • MySpace
  • Our greater general culture

These are interconnected through people, who post, repost, distribute, edit, and revive memes. They are also the controllers, and the feedback for this system would be the meme’s success and the implications it then has on our culture.

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