To meme, or not to meme

By Adam Mathieu, COLUMNIST
On March 4, 2014

 

Hate them or make them, memes are blowing up social media.

The obnoxious photos have become staples on sites such as Facebook, Reddit and Twitter, giving users the chance to make witty statements or cheap jokes while capitalizing on the latest meme trend.

However, not everyone chooses meme celebrity-status.

Last week, Meagan Simmons, known for her “Attractive Convict” meme, sued InstantCheckmate.com, a site providing access to public records, over the unauthorized use of her image for commercial purposes.

Simmons’ mug shot is now seen sandwiched between text such as “Miss demeanor,” “Can I have her cell number” or “I guess its true, looks do kill,” with the latter far off from her actual crime — a DUI.

The lawsuit, which Simmons hopes will prevent further use of her image, will likely be a small step in erasing her mug shot from the Internet as a meme.

As seen with the “Bad Luck Brian” meme, originating in 2012, these annoying jokes can stick around for years.

However, some subjects of memes embrace their Internet fame.

“Bad Luck Brian” features a man that refers to himself as “Lucky Kyle,” as he revealed on Reddit, and is in fact happy about the jokes that sprouted from his photo.

Regardless of whether or not these meme subjects approve of their parodied images, memes will continue to plague
social media.

It seems the real problem, aside from flooding Facebook walls, is that these memes are taking images of people and throwing them around out of context and usually in mockery.

The Internet is already a place where anyone’s image is not exactly safe, but memes only encourage people to use others as the stem of an ongoing joke.

Surely many people have had friends attempting to become a meme sensation, taking one of their own photos and slapping semi-relevant text next to it. However, despite the hopeful who want their memes passed around as a new go-to joke, it seems as though meme popularity happens on its own.

The chance of popularity is where the privacy factor comes into play. As the last decade has shown, there is no such thing as privacy on the Internet.

While some people actually try to become the character of a meme, there are people such as Simmons who never asked to become part of the trend.

One reason memes can spread so easily is due in part to websites that provide popular meme templates and allow any text to be attached. For instance, sites such as memegenerator.net allow users the option to “create a new character,” where they can upload an image and choose how the meme is used in context.

While many self-made memes will fall into a digital pile, there are those chosen few that will take off.

With how easy it is to make memes, it is wise for people to take control when they can and make sure their images are set to private and that their friends are not the type to carelessly take a photo and turn it into a joke.

 

Adam Mathieu is a sophomore majoring in studio art.

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