Internet Memes: Then and Now

 The internet is a world of its own. Thousands of online communities continue to breed new digital life and culture. People would exchange opinions, ideas, and themes, and a new form of culture would just automatically grow.


Our digital culture is quickly shaping into something bigger, almost like an evolution of some sorts. A part of this growing culture is the existence of internet memes”.


An internet meme is a cultural phenomenon that spreads from one person to another. These come in videos, pictures, or jokes that symbolise meanings or messages with the internet as the primary medium.The definition of an internet meme is basic and simple to understand, but even the origin of the word “meme” has more serious meaning.


Internet memes were just a minuscule form of basic humour back then, until they evolved into a digital tradition. Take a trip down memory lane and see how simple internet memes were back then.


Rage Comics


The Rage Comic is a short comic with pre-made cartoon faces that symbolise an emotion or trait. This internet meme originated in 4chan in 2007, and ever since spread to a large number of websites including Reddit, 9GAG, and Cheezburger. Since this internet phenomena broke the internet, different users have posted and shared their personal comics, all with different scenarios.


The cartoon faces are characterised by the emotion on their faces, symbolising the context of the meme’s humour. Some of them are even complete imitations of celebrity scenes and photos, like Nicolas Cage’s “You Don’t Say” meme from his film The Vampire’s Kiss.


The rage comic’s most famous meme is the “trollface”. The trollface exhibits a devilish look on his face, showing mischievousness as a reaction. This meme is now universally considered as the symbol for an “internet troll”.


Nyan Cat


This meme first started out as a video on YouTube in April, 2011. The Nyan Cat would fly through space with a rainbow trail behind the feline, as a song by famous Japanese animated singer Hatsune Miku would play.


The Nyan Cat’s origin can be thanked in large part to two separate internet users.Before the video, the GIF version of the meme was first uploaded by Christopher Torres of Dallas, Texas. According to him, two different people were requesting him to draw a Pop-Tart and a cat. Eventually, he combined the two ideas into one GIF and uploaded it online.

On April 5, 2011, YouTube user “saraj00n” saw the animation and combined it with a song from Hatsune Miku. As soon it was uploaded on YouTube, it went viral. Thus, the Nyan Cat was born.


All your base are belong to us


Zero Wing is a critically acclaimed side-scrolling shoot ‘em up arcade game that emerged in 1989. While the game enjoyed much success in Japan and Europe, it gave birth to one to the world wide web’s earliest memes.


“All your base are belong to us” is basically the opening text in the game’s introductory cutscene. The meme came from the European port of the game, and along many different scenes in the game, poorly translated English was present. An example of another poorly translated Japanese-to-English text in the game was the phrase, “Somebody set up us the bomb”.

The game’s popularity re-emerged once more in the early 2000’s, when the cutscene was converted into a GIF animation. What followed soon was another birth of a classic internet meme.


Modern day internet memes

More or less, internet memes today are basically the same but with a few alterations. Here are a few internet memes of today.


Pikachu Meme


An upcoming film starring Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu has sparked numerous posts and comments around the globe. While others were commenting on the cuteness of the character, some random bloke managed to dig up this old scene from the first season of the original Pokémon TV series.


The expression on Pikachu’s face simply shows surprise in the form of innocence. This universal expression of amazement has been used by different internet users around the world in their very own personal memes.


Off Ramps 


The origin of this modern meme originated from a video of an amateur driver attempting to drift as he exits the highway. The image of a scene from the video was captured, then was edited with a bridge and sign on top. Since then, the meme grew on to to be used my many users with their own version.


Who Killed Hannibal?


In November 2013, Eric Andre hosted a skit with Hannibal Buress in his TV show The Eric Andre Show. In this skit, Andre pulled out a pistol and shot Buress multiple times before saying, “Who killed Hannibal?”


A few years later, a new trend bloomed when a user in Reddit posted this scene with their own edited version regarding 9/11 conspiracy theories. The meme pertains to hypocrisy and the humour surrounding such controversy. Ever since the trend’s culmination, different online users have put their own brand of comedy by demonstrating how hypocritical people (fictional or not) can be.