The History of Meme

In a digital era like these days, a meme has become part of how millennials communicate. More than that, meme also capable of giving a huge influence. Limor Shifman, a Professor of Communication and Journalism from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as reported by Thrillist said that meme is a very important part of the way humans communicate with each other. He also stated that meme has become a real economy on the internet, even though they are not an economic product.

Meme means pictures from television shows, films, or modified self-made images by adding words or writings for the purpose of humor and entertaining. Memes appear on various social media, it appears on almost every issue that happens in the community and makes it a tingling satire. Meme actually has been around for a thousand years. But only a few having a research about it to understand what the meaning of meme is actually in the way we communicate. Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene, said that a meme is considered to be equivalent to culture as a gene for humans. It considered capable of encouraging cultural evolution, such as pop culture Darwinism. But this original definition is not quite suitable for modern standards. Shifman said that the general idea in the statement above is, a meme is an idea that spreads in culture. But that doesn’t really help you define what memes are and what doesn’t exist in the world today.

In 1993, Wired defined meme as a contagious idea, just like a virus that jumps from one body to another. But the term meme was unpopular, until finally in 2012 the term meme reached its peak of popularity. This was proven in the Google Trends Graph, which shows a trend of increasing extraordinary memes. The first meme appeared long before the internet. But it is quite relevant to find out, what was the first Meme that appeared on the internet, which eventually represented meme as we know it today. It’s easy if you want to conclude that text-based emoticons like 🙂 are the first memes to appear on the internet. This emoticon was discovered in 1983. Unfortunately, the text-based emoticons are not the meme.

One of the most popular memes is “All Your Base Are Belong to Us”. It appeared around the year 2000. This meme made fun of a bad English translation of the 1989 Sega Genesis game, Zero Wing. “All Your Base Are Belong to Us” is considered to be the first ‘macro image’ meme. With the appearance of white text in images, this meme is the precursor of modern memes that we know today.

The First Meme: The Dancing Baby

In 1996, a graphic designer, Michael Girard, wanted to show that motion can be programmed and projected through a computer. He also designed Baby Cha-Cha-Cha, or often referred to as Dancing Baby. Then the Dancing baby demo was sent to other developers, basically to show off. It ends in the hands of a LucasArts developer, who changes it in a GIF format. This is where Dancing Baby became very well known, and even appeared in one episode of Ally McBeal. The Dancing Baby later became a term used for the new era of the internet. It becomes a reference to show the assumption of the internet phenomenon. At that time, The Dancing Baby was not an internet product, but it was the internet itself.

So that was the history of a meme. Wish it gives you a piece of new information about a meme. Thank you!