Behind The Memes

By Aminah Madihah

Decoding memes as a unique form of communication.

Over the years, communication has taken on various new forms, and one of the most intriguing phenomena is the rise of memes as a distinct mode of expression. What started as mere funny images has evolved into a nuanced language of its own.

In case you don’t know what a meme is (where have you been?!), it often takes the form of an image, video, or phrase, typically with humorous or relatable content that you commonly see on the internet. Memes are shared and modified by people, reflecting shared experiences and trends in a creative and easily shareable way.

Here’s how memes have contributed to the evolution of communication that goes beyond just entertainment:

Visual Language and Cultural Context
Memes tap into visual communication in a way that written text alone cannot. They convey complex emotions, concepts, and ideas through images, symbols, and even short video clips. The cultural context in which a meme emerges plays a crucial role in its interpretation and resonance.

It’s evident nowadays where not just Gen Z, but also the older generation who use messaging apps such as WhatsApp use stickers to convey messages instead of typing it out. The amount of stickers to use are endless and they come in different languages and styles. Some stickers are more fit to local settings and humour, which are my favourite!

Subversion and Social Commentary
While memes are often associated with humour, they can also carry profound social commentary. Through satire, irony, and parody, memes can challenge societal norms, critique political situations, and shed light on important issues.

Malaysians are very creative when it comes to this. During the five-day hung parliament after GE15 in 2022, instead of waiting around and worrying about the results, netizens edited pictures and came up with hilarious posts. You can find the best memes that came out from that event here.

Viral Spread and Community Bonding
The viral nature of memes has transformed them into a mechanism for community bonding. When a meme captures a widespread sentiment, it unites individuals who share similar experiences or perspectives. Online platforms such as Reddit, X (previously known as Twitter), and Facebook have become hubs for meme-sharing communities, reinforcing a sense of belonging and shared identity.

On apps such as TikTok or Instagram, users can share videos that they feel relatable with their friends. The shared laughter or understanding not only strengthens existing friendships but also cultivates an environment where people feel understood and validated. Relatable memes and videos have the power to create a unique kind of virtual inside joke.

Memes are now no longer just simple internet jokes, they have become a dynamic and multifaceted form of communication. However, they also face challenges such as the potential for misinformation, cultural insensitivity, and oversaturation. As memes continue to evolve, it will be essential to strike a balance between entertainment and responsible communication.

Share with us your favourite meme @Graduan!

Photo by Collabstr on Unsplash.

Share this article: