Generation 94/5 has grown up in a society where an increasing amount of interaction with each other is done through online mediums. Over 65% of Twitter users and 90% of Instagram users are under 30. Technology has changed both pop-culture and communication, becoming a large part of online creativity.
The week before last, ScHoolBoy Q trolled his fans by tweeting an image of an opaque outline of the crying Michael Jordan meme which blogs and fans assumed to be the cover art for ‘Blank Face LP’. As you might expect, it was greeted with excitement and confusion. Later on, Q told TMZ Live that initially it was the concept he planned to use for the roll-out his album, due to the positive response Q attempted to use the meme as the album's cover art, but issues around copyright clearance made this unfeasible.
The dictionary definition of a meme is “an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Memes represent a transition and illustration of how the internet is used by millennials, it has become the epitome of social media, created by the people that use it most. Social media has now become a platform that can contribute to the success of an artist, for instance, Drake’s mainstream popularity was accelerated by #YOLO and developed further by the memes generated as a result of the Hotline Bling video. The beauty of memes is that you don't have to be a graphic designer, journalist or an expert with photoshop. Memes are user-generated content that transcends geographic mapping, class or creed in a way that mass media has tried to do but never mastered.
Memes in the music scene are nothing new, many of us have used images from various music videos attaching text to bring a new meaning to the context. Aside from music, even everyday life, struggles and relationship issues facing young people are reflected through memes. The phrase "Netflix and Chill" would not have got the same attention without memes. Hilarity can be brought to situations that initially may seem to be serious, just look at Birdman’s recent yet infamous interview with The Breakfast Club.
Memes provide more than a few laughs and aid us in talking about wider issues. Similarly to what comics once did, providing a light-hearted, empathetic and digestible way to talk about our own insecurities. Something we can all relate to at some point in our lives, it can be therapeutic to laugh through the pain so to speak.
Many memes are solely about the joke but others provide a window into pop-culture, music trends, political views and, the norms and habits of this society. In decades to come, will memes be studied as pieces of history? Only time will tell.