“What exactly is a meme?” fellow UTexas Longhorns often ask me.
Picture me stuttering and pursing my lips. Of course I know what a meme is, but it’s not the simplest thing to describe. Nonetheless, I feel that it is my duty to provide a quick introductory course as a Longhorn and avid Internet-goer.
UTexas Memes is a massive Facebook page (Click HERE to see it). Many of the people who like the page, however, could benefit from understanding how the page came to be.
An Internet meme is a bit of information that has achieved viral state in the Internet community. Usually the information is funny, but not always (cough-Chuck Testa-cough).
Regardless of the information’s content, the only real qualification for meme-hood is that the information is repeated and kept relevant for a significant amount of time.
A meme can be a video, a picture, a website, or even just a saying. A meme of rapper XZIBIT immortalized the words, “YO DAWG” with his Inception-like techniques on the show Pimp My Ride.
If you’re looking for another example, “why not Zoidberg?” – that’s a very popular meme-phrase today. It comes from everyone’s favorite crustacean doctor on the show Futurama.
These videos, phrases, pictures, and more have been around in some form for years. Usually, they just drifted around within the series of tubes that is the Internet. Rarely did they ever enter the lexicon of popular culture.
Things drastically changed when memes began crossing the meridian between Internet and real life back in 2007. This is due in large part to the I Can Haz Cheezburger weblog.
ICHC was a simple blog in which users took pictures of their cats, framed it with some text in Impact font, and uploaded it as a “Lolcat.”
I Can Haz Cheezburger’s popularity exploded, which is totally understandable because who doesn’t like pics of ‘ickle kitties wif their li’l toesies and whiskers?
I mean…some people…out there…do…
Anyway. Suddenly memes were everywhere. From ’07, people across the world shared their favorite Lolcat pictures with everybody they knew. Internet celebs like Tank Cat, Monorail Cat, and Force Field Cat became household names. The levee had broken; the Kraken had been released.
Rickrolling is the greatest example of this phenomenon. Rickrolling involved, in short, tricking someone to watch the music video for Rick Astley’s 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
Click HERE to understand more.
…That was easy. It’s 2012, man. Come on.
The prank grew to a cultural pastime in 2008. Students Rickrolled their classes during presentations. Coworkers Rickrolled one another when they should have been submitting their TPS reports.
Rickrolling became such a huge phenomenon that Rick Astley himself Rickrolled the entire 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Memes proliferated as the years passed. Social news and sharing sites like Digg and Reddit allowed hard-core Internet folk to share memes with casual online users. This interplay between on- and off-line culture kept new information flowing.
Enter UT Austin, 2011-2012. UTexas memes created a Facebook page in Feburary 2012. The page was a huge success. As of today, the Facebook page for UTexas memes has about 16,500 ‘likes.’ That’s, like, a lot of likes. Click on the page and you will find a sea of captioned pictures. All of those pictures encapsulate some small part of student life at UT Austin.
The picture could be about the searching for the Albino Squirrel, or the nerve-racking schedule of the UT shuttle. A few posts are even about partying on Sixth Street. The page continues to acquire new fans every day. It is slowly becoming yet another quirk of student life at UT Austin.
So there you have it. UTexas Memes is not an isolated incident of funny. The formats of its memes have been around since the early- to mid-2000s. Take this knowledge with you and venture forth into the Internet as a better meme-creator.
Austinot Dusty asks:
What is your favorite UTexas Meme?
(Photos and video are property of their respective owners and taken from KnowYourMeme.com, ICanHazCheezeburger.com, and Youtube.com)