Memes & Society... What we know, What we don't know

​Hello everyone! It has been quite a bit since my last blog post and in that time I have been able to conduct some of my own research on memes, social networks, and the relationship that people have with such things. In my first Blog post: A meme is not just a picture, I talked a bit about what a meme actually was, both by definition and by personal experiences that many people have with memes.

Quick recap:

  1. meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem) is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture".
The idea of meme originated pretty much at the start of civilization, but adopted a greek name as time passed. The word meme is a shortening (modeled on gene) of mimeme (from Ancient Greek μίμημα pronounced [míːmɛːma] mīmēma, "imitated thing", from μιμεῖσθαι mimeisthai, "to imitate", from μῖμος mimos, "mime")

Memes are not just a picture with a caption on them, or a hash-tag, but they are a human trait, we have mimicked since the very first days of our species, whether it was us all chanting at the same time, to us all building the same houses, the concept of mimic has been in our DNA for thousands of years and is still one of the fundamental structures of society.

For my original research, I decided to take a closer look as to how exactly social networks, protests, and memes are interlaced with our society and found that they have just as much power as per say, the entire society itself. I decided to interview someone who I know for a fact has tons of experience with social networks and the internet. His name is Andrea Mazzucchi, and he is also my father. Andrea worked with the internet since pretty much the first days and has been all around Europe setting up connections and doing jobs related to social networks. Additionally he also has some experience with protests and movements being led using the internet. In fact, he was one of the key players in a protest college students were having in china, sneaking information from the internet the Chinese government blocked, or thought they blocked, and turning the protest from a national problem, to an international discussion.

You can see the full, unedited interview HERE

In the interview he described the fact that social networks have always been a major role of movement ever since the early ages of the internet. He talked about the process of things going viral, how the politics work behind internet protests and many more things which you should definitely look into. He also told us of the importance in learning about the internet and the fact that it is a growing place, and probably will be the new method of communication.

Additionally, I decided to conduct a research with people who live in the city and generally in the areas where telecommunications are most popular. I created a survey (can be found by clicking HERE) and attempted to find out, how exactly a handful of people from a first world city, saw memes.

After gathering a few results, I created an info-graph to represent how people answered on each question.

You can see the info-graph HERE

Based on the results, it seems like many people have a general understanding or idea of what a meme is. Many people referred to a meme by its common form of "Picture with a caption". What was surprising about the results though, is that not many people seemed to be aware of the impact that memes had. We all know about how memes are interlaced within social networks, but it seemed like no one was aware of the fact that social networks are a major contributor to protests and change. Almost everyone who took the survey, if not everyone, was living a couple miles away from an actual live riot that was being influenced by telecommunication. That's right, the modern Baltimore Riot is being bombarded across all types of social networks. Things ranging from images, to short clips of people causing chaos, to entire news stories of what happened are being blasted across the internet in all direction. The Baltimore Riot is a perfect example of an explosion of text and pixels, which lead to a much greater effect than just some forum discussion.

Other examples of movements being led by memes can be things such as:

#ALS
#ICantBreathe
#BringBackOurGirls
#BlackLivesMatter
#StopGamerGate

And the list goes on and on....

My point is, people are always part of movements or the ongoing flow of information and change, but they never stop to think about it. To everyone it seems normal, but people never think about the true effect that posts on twitter or even text messages have on the very society which they live in. For my Agent of change, I would like to raise awareness of memes, social networks, and the power they have on our everyday lives. I decided to make a documentary which hopefully you will see soon and maybe even start a hash-tag project or a meme that helps raise awareness on what goes on between the online and offline life that ties them so closely together.


Info-graph:

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