Life Style

Memes, a phenomenon on social networks

“Salt Bae”, “Disaster girl” or “The math lady”… These names may not mean much to you, but you have surely come across these memes on the Web. Memes are diverted images, sometimes mocking, very popular on social networks. They can refer to movies, celebrities, or political news.

This was the case during the debate between the two rounds of the presidential election when Marine Le Pen released a tweet printed on an A4 sheet. An image repeated hundreds of times and diverted with, for example, a child’s drawing or humorous messages instead.

→ CRITICAL. “A history… of the Internet”, on France Culture, an enlightening digital geopolitics

But memes aren’t just for making people smile. It is also a way to hijack the news, to comment on an unclear situation at the beginningemphasizes François Jost, semiologist (1). We can sometimes arrive at very philosophical reflections. »

A new means of expression

Among young people, their use is almost daily. It is common to send memes to each other in private messages or on groups to express one’s mood or emotions. “It brings people together around a reference or to say how we feel, but in a funnier way”, says Jean-Baptiste, 20 years old. Memes have literally become a means of expression. “You could say they’re taking over from emojis when it comes to expressing feelings. Young people can describe what they feel with a picture, without saying it”, completes François Jost.

Memes also have the particularity of sometimes addressing very specific people. A meme may be misunderstood, and that’s okay.believes François Jost. It is aimed at communities that are woven around certain themes, such as certain sports, etc. All share the same references.» These communities, which call themselves “neurchi” (“bargain hunter” in verlan, editor’s note) on the web, bring together memes related to their theme.


► In our opinion

Memes are images of diversion that can make you smile and offer a form of expression. But beware of the risk of confusion they may cause. For an audience that is too young or uninformed, a meme can quickly become a fake.


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