Sorry for the pun, but I am my father’s son, so I learned from the master. We’ve been discussing in one of my classes the subject of virality. What makes things go viral? Specifically we got into discussing memes and some examples of what events or images have been turned into memes and circulated around the various social pools of the internet. First of all, to address what makes them so viral, we can all agree that they are funny. I think what makes them go viral has to do with how much we can relate to them. Since they pull from events or situations in real life, and creative minds out there connect them with various compelling truths–much like the basis for many ads we see on a day-to-day basis.
Here are three memes that I think are hilarious and some thoughts on them.
Black Friday Around the World
Black Friday has been the source of shocking–and often funny–videos and memes for many years now. This particular example I came across this year gives a really good insight into the differences between Black Friday in the US, and elsewhere. Living in Canada, we can totally relate to how this sales event plays out here. We’re polite, orderly, and we must live up to that reputation, even when massive savings are involved. In contrast it appears that the UK doesn’t give a shit about Black Friday–well, except the single shopper in the video. Then we have the USA. The frenzy that ensues at the mere mention of the words “door crasher” is simply mind-boggling. What is it about this day that causes people to start frothing at the mouth? The premise that the US is really the only place in the world where materialism has taken the drivers seat over human decency is something many of us can’t understand, but we just can’t avert our eyes when it receives any coverage. That’s why I believe this meme is so viral. It gives us a maddening look into the troubled mind of the American consumer, but also reminds us just how polite Canadians are, and that the UK could care less.
The Most Interesting Man in the World
By now we’ve all heard of this guy, the face of Dos Equis beer. His first appearance in a commercial where he claims, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, it’s Dos Equis.”, has spawned thousands of memes (all you need to do is run an image search for, “most interesting man in the world memes” and you’ll hit a treasure trove). If this guy wasn’t the most interesting man when the commercial aired, he sure is now. This one in particular had me laughing so hard I couldn’t read it out loud to anyone for about 5 minutes. This is another prime example of what makes memes go viral. It’s completely relatable. I mean, who hasn’t done this at some point in their lives? Stating that you kick ice under the fridge alone is nothing special. However, for some reason when we combine it with this guy’s face and word it like this, it’s an instant hit. This is also a prime example of earned media for the brand. Even though many people may not drink that beer, that brand will remain in people’s heads as long as these memes keep circulating. If you have the time, check out some of the stories they have about this guy on the Dos Equis website. They are quite entertaining.
This meme has been making the rounds since 2012. According to knowyourmeme.com, this image was first turned into a meme using the wording, “Oh come on! You don’t even know what a meme is!”. The image was captured from an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation” which aired in the 90s. I think this one has become so popular because it embodies every WTF reaction that we have ever experienced in the collective history of mankind. Plus it’s got sexy Patrick Stewart who is one of the most well-known actors in television, film and theatre. It’s the kind of image that can apply to just about any mind-boggling situation and is still circulating today, five years after it was originally created.
If you’d like to read more meme-related content, check out my blog post where I contrast two blogs, one of which has something to do with cheeseburgers.
Do you have a favourite meme? Share your images or links in the comments!