All Your Meme are Belong to Us

Meme: “An idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture.”

-Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Memes, specifically Internet Memes, have become increasingly relevant due to the rise of social media. They have taken on many forms such as images, videos, text, ideas, and even faces. Internet memes have taken an interesting turn that has made them one of the foremost tools for entertainment, jest, satire, and story/problem sharing.

The original Internet Memes were images and GIFs (basically a moving image) that were usually created by forum users with the purpose to get ideas across in a humorous ways. One of the most widely known and used internet memes is also recognized as one of the first. If you text or message your friends on Facebook, you probably have used it at least a dozen times in the past week.

Of course it is the emoticon.

The emoticon was invented on September 19, 1982 at 11:44 by Scott Fahlman on Carnegie Mellon’s message board. On the site, someone posted a question about the result of an elevator with a candle and a drop of Mercury inside. The immediate response to the question was titled “WARNING!” and was a joke about how one elevator in the building elevator was now burned and contaminated with Mercury.

16-Sep-82 12:09 Neil Swartz at CMU-750R Pigeon type question
This question does not involve pigeons, but is similar:
There is a lit candle in an elevator mounted on a bracket attached to
the middle of one wall (say, 2″ from the wall). A drop of mercury
is on the floor. The cable snaps and the elevator falls.
What happens to the candle and the mercury?

16-Sep-82 17:21 Howard Gayle at CMU-780G WARNING!
Because of a recent physics experiment, the leftmost elevator has been
contaminated with mercury. There is also some slight fire damage.
Decontamination should be complete by 08:00 Friday.

This message was interpreted as an actual warning advisory and the word was spread that an elevator was contaminated. The immediate reaction to this mishap of misinterpreted humor led the message board users to look for a way to signal humor in a textual message. Fahlman proposed a simple solution.

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E. Fahlman : – )
From: Scott E. Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:

: – )

Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark
things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use

: – (


Sine that original post, the concept of using symbol based faces as indicators for mood and tone within short messages has become engrained in modern communication. Now, there are hundreds of different emoticons, each representing a different face or action that is associated with an emotion in order to steer the tone of the message as the sender pleases.

What about more recent Internet Memes?

Internet Memes have exploded and expanded to a gigantic, expressive collection of sentiments and ideas which today are mostly fueled by the younger generations. The simple reasoning behind this is that the internet in the form that we have it today did not exist more than a decade ago and those who were brought up with the internet have come to embrace the Internet Meme.

The title of this post, All Your Meme are Belong to Us, is an adaptation of the popular Internet Meme “All your base are belong to us.” The origin is from the semi-popular 1991 Japanese video game, Zero Wing. The game’s poor English translation includes many nonsensical statements like “What happen?,” “What you say!,” “Take off every ‘Zig’!,” and “All your base are belong to us.” This meme indirectly contributed to the development of a much larger meme known as “Engrish,” or the resulting message when a non-English speaker poorly translates something into English.

How are Internet Memes important when it comes to experts?

Well, that is a bit complicated to explain, but it can be said that many “experts” have harnessed internet memes to their advantage.

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin, is the former and current President and former Prime Minister of Russia… not to mention that he is probably the most powerful Russian since Gorbachev. He is famous for his personal propaganda. This includes pictures and videos of him riding horses, fishing, doing karate, and playing sports. Not only does he have a huge propaganda machine, he has his own internet meme which is extremely popular in Russia called One Like Putin. This meme was original produced in the form of a music video and song and became extremely popular in Russia.

English Dubbing:

The song became extremely popular with the Russian youth who enjoyed the beat and the theme. Even though it was definitely not the first propaganda song produced in Russia, it was the first one in the form of a Pop song. After this song came out, the phrase, “a man like Putin,” became common-place and widespread with the Russian youth.

This example of propaganda turn meme has worried me a little. It shows how those who control memes can cultivate power and support from the youth even if their platforms or ideas may be faulty.

I think that internet memes now play an important role with shaping the perspective culture of my generation and it will surely be the opinions of those who can command the internet meme that will outshine the others…


4 responses

  1. Great post, fascinating origin of the emoticon! It’s a good point you make, because I never occurred to me that it was a meme. I think part of the reasons internet memes have become so popular is that the modern trend is for people to personalize their everything, and its nice to take something popular like a picture or video and make it personalized, something that you yourself created. Also, good use of the bolded questions between paragraphs and topics!

  2. I liked how you delved into the history of memes and explored its current uses. I think that memes tie together the internet community because the jargon can be only understood by those that spend a lot of time online. Not to mention many of them are hilarious. Speaking of memes you have to check out this awesome video:

    1. Why do I always fall for that!?

  3. You don’t want to irritate your skin any further. Basing on my own experience, I recommend this program genuinely. A sudden increase of acne is called an escape.

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