Everything moves fast in the Information Age, including trends. From the first chat rooms, to emojis, to instant messaging, to vlogging – it seems that trends themselves move as fast as the high speed connections they’re spread with. And the latest trend, affectionately being referred to as “Meme Speak” is no different. That name means exactly what it implies. Just as I’m sure you or someone you know has communicated almost exclusively with emojis at some time or another, Meme Speak is communication almost exclusively with memes.
Of course, memes themselves aren’t new, although finding what could be proclaimed as the first one is quite frankly an impossible task. But Oldest.org did a great job compiling a list of some the internet’s earliest standouts here.
Like most trends, the thought of this can seem humorous and even quirky. Host Stacey Higginbotham of Stacy On IoT has jokingly shared how her young daughter and her friends carry on entire conversations using this form of communication. Sometimes, Stacey admits, she has to ask her daughter for clarification on some of the conversations.
Although I love nearly all forms of creativity, and welcome new forms of self expression, memes by their nature have unfortunate dark sides. Specifically, the majority of memes that are shared on the internet are just that – shared. Meaning they are created by someone else, thus they are someone else’s thoughts. I caution those who make it a habit of sharing such memes in abundance. Even if it’s not the case, it gives the appearance that you lack the ability to form your own thoughts and opinions. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with sharing quotes or interesting things via meme, but when it becomes your overwhelming form of communication it can possibly make others question your ability to articulate your own thoughts and opinions.
Perhaps one of the worst dark sides of memes in my opinion is the spread of political [mis]information. Over the years, this darkness has grown worse and worse – especially in today’s political climate where so many seem willing to separate along party lines. Far too often, memes are shared that contain quotes meant only to promote “us” while casting shame and ridicule on “them”. I try to remind my friends all of the time that the fact of the matter is memes are created , usually in about 2 minutes, on someone’s phone using any number of free apps. Thus, the validity of the statements in the memes shouldn’t be so readily accepted as fact. Moreover, I encourage them to consider the source and consider the intended audience – these are the easiest tell-tell signs as to whether or not a meme contains any actual facts.
Simply put, I think speaking in meme can be funny. There’s plenty of silly out there to go around. Not to mention the challenge of searching for and using memes that fit the conversation at hand, or creating them on the fly. My only caution is to not let it replace one’s own ability to actually communicate using one’s own thoughts and opinions, and being able to articulate them effectively.
But hey – trends come and they go.