A student of Ted Mitew knows too well that the best memes aren’t funny. And whether you are aware of it or not, by interacting with the endless amounts of digital media that are so involved in our everyday lives, no doubt you’ll stumble across something we all know to well as a meme. More often than not, you’ll find yourself in this group of individuals that has collected information about you and shown you this meme on your feed.
Memes can be used as a means to quickly distribute information from user to user. Richard Dawkins identifies this travel from user to user as “leaping from brain to brain through a process called imitation” (Dawkins, Richard 2014). Businesses often utilise memes and other common media trends to create and mentally involve you in their ideas and thoughts, a hidden agenda of sorts to get you to believe in their cause.
Propaganda is something we have seen used since the creation of media and distributed networks. We used to be able to find propaganda primarily in things such as newspapers, radio ads etc (Which can be known as legacy media) – as previously discussed in some of my earlier blogs. And propaganda has the ability to create and shape a particular point of view. Propaganda can also been seen and known as meme warfare. Dawkins believes memes to be self-replicating units of culture, imitating information and ideas.
Joan Donovan wrote a piece for the MIT Technology review where her friend had found that one of his wedding photos had made its way on a post on a right-wing message board. His photos had been doctored to look like an ad for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, endorsing the idea of drafting women into the military. This is the image below.
This man didn’t give permission of any kind for his image to be used in this political setting, and it had been taken from his online wedding album. Rather than complaining, he just ignored it and became a victim in media manipulation and disinformation. Whilst a lot of people think of memes as a funny joke and harmless, it is evolving into something more important that that. Whilst we all remain unaware of it we all become a pawn in meme warfare.