The Ebb and Flow of the Memeconomy

Thomas Harley, Staff Writer

Memes, in the past decade, have directly grown in popularity with the expansion of both the internet and social media. Scroll through any teenager’s Instagram feed, and a flurry of captioned photos involving comedic pop culture references will begin to appear. These memes often take controversial topics and make light of them, in a way that makes people laugh.

To rate these three following memes, something called the Meme Scale will be used. Functioning as an A-F system, it will rate the memes based on comedic effect, relevancy to the current current events and modern culture, and other potentially arbitrary factors that make the meme “good” or “bad”.

A warning must be given, though, to meme-lovers that dare to venture into the ratings section: diagnosing and analyzing the selected memes will possibly take the appeal away from them. It follows the rule of thumb that a joke that must be explained is no longer funny.

Meme #1
This meme includes a misused but common phrase during a therapy session.

This meme follows the trend of combining a completely normal situation in the picture with a comedic event occurring in the caption. It is straight to the point, and the attitude transitions completely after “Cry me a table, Linda”. A serious therapy session is completely delegitimized by the punch line. The one setback is that there is no reference to pop culture, but quite honestly it is not even necessary.

Rating: B+


Meme #2
Meme referencing Dr Phil and a comedic quote from him captured in the subtitles.

Our Rating: B-

In a great reference to the great Doctor Phil, a popular character included in many memes, this example features Dr Phil saying a particularly eccentric sentence in the subtitles, implying that someone has accused him of being “a hassidic hillbilly with a snoot full of honeybees”, and him proclaiming that he is not one. The ironic appeal of this meme is how the situation would never actually occur in real life, and how the subtitle itself was probably taken out-of-context and may have not have even been said by Dr Phil, but when combined with a perfect caption, the meme serves its comedic purpose. The downside may be that the meme is extremely straightforward and doesn’t have much variety in it, but this also aids it in its purpose of being comedically blunt.

Meme #3
Meme in which father mocks child for lack of knowledge on economics.

Our Rating: A

This meme is my personal favorite of the three. It involves both the casual innocence of a 5 year-old with the bluntness of an adult. The straightforwardness of this meme insinuates that the child would know about the economy and inflation. To top it off, the child is actually punished for not having knowledge on this subject. In analyzing the components of this meme, it scores the highest of the three. There are no noticeable downsides.

“Living in the digital age, memes have a tumultuous effect on our society, and especially on my own life. I personally could not have made it through this past presidential election without them.”

— sophomore Mariam Vela

In my diagnosis of these three memes, it has become apparent that in analyzing the memes, the comedic appeal has definitely been lost. Memes are something that should be taken at first glance, and understood quickly, hopefully triggering a slight laugh or maybe more. Nonetheless, memes are a key pillar to the social media industry, and will continue to grow with the internet’s expansion.