Internet memes and networked individualism: A perfect couple?


Social Media Collective

Memes are conceptual troublemakers. While academics have been debating over their theoretical usefulness ever since Richard Dawkins coined the term back in 1976, internet users speak of memes daily, as uncontested givens. Recently, I’ve been thinking of ways to bridge the yawning gap between academic and popular discourses on memes. I agree with some of the criticism of the ways the term has been used so far, but still see it as a powerful concept for unpacking many aspects of digital culture. Users are on to something, and I believe that researchers should follow – carefully and critically, of course…

As an initial step, I’d like to highlight three points that I made in a recent paper, An Anatomy of a YouTube Meme, each relating to a different question about memes:

What’s the difference between “memetic” and “viral”?
While “viral” and “memetic” are often used interchangeably, disentangling them may…

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