Drawing of word "meme"


I have never gotten a clear definition of “meme,” though the word gets used a lot. Everyone has a slightly different take on it when I ask, usually involving incoherence and a lot of “you knows.” If I knew, I wouldn’t ask.

Here’s the clearest definition I could find (from Wikipedia):  “A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture….Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures. There is much more written about memes but most of it is incomprehensible. One could waste a lot of time surfing meme websites such as Know Your Meme, which calls itself a website dedicated to documenting Internet phenomena.

I wasn’t surprised to learn from Know Your Meme that I am completely ignorant of current memes, except one: the widely viewed photo of Donald Trump’s rump. I heard about the pic from my sister Chris, searched “Donald Trump big ass,” and there it was! You can see it here or you can take my word that it is a truly unflattering photo, taken from below in a high wind, showing our president’s weird hair flying and flapping suit coat revealing what is usually, mercifully, concealed. This photo mutated via Reddit photoshopping into Trump riding a broomstick and other inappropriate versions that in turn led to photos of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s backside, which prompted a separate meme and “Twitterstorm.” (Spoiler alert: it’s no contest.) Just like the definition said: the photo was replicated, mutated and went viral.

Not everyone will think that the Trump rump meme is funny. It almost makes me feel a little sorry for our president, a man who is so vain. It’s not easy to come to terms with aging, hair loss and weight gain no matter how much money you have. At least most of us aren’t public figures and thus not targets for embarrassing photos. But, come to think of it, there are family-generated memes that my kids post on Facebook (think dreadful 1980’s big hair, big shoulders, big sneakers). Excuse me while I un-tag myself. And have a good week.



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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