The lifespan of a meme

Bad memes can backfire once the internet gets hold of them.

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The language of the new generation

Memes often come in too many shapes and sizes for most people. However, for someone like me who spends every second I can on my computer, I think they're all beautiful.

There’s a 50/50 split between how a meme begins: it's either totally unintentional, or completely intentional. Let’s take two recent examples:

Cash me outside

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 10.51.58

Take a quick look at this 13 year old calling the audience “some hoes”. She got massive overnight fame and is now charging over $40,000 for appearances. Makes me think I should lose a few brain cells and hop on TV.

Roll Safe

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 10.51.15

Reece aka Roll Safe has a documentary on BBC3 about living life in the hood. A small screencap was taken and popularised by a meme page (@FootyHumor), with the caption:

‘When you piss her off on purpose, so she can say goodnight at 6pm and you can just play FIFA for the rest of the day in peace.’

Typically, the unintentional memes are just sayings that will be popular for around a week. This happens a lot (Cash me ousside, Damn Daniel). This is due to the fact that they take no thought to create or say. They’re just one liners, and if you’ve ever watched a one line comedy show more than once then you’ll know how boring the repetition gets.

Memes that make you think a little, or that can be used in several contexts are what stand the test of time and, on the internet, time passes very quickly. Having a meme stay popular for a month or longer is crazy.

The meme’s lifecycle

We’re now going to have a small talk about the exact moment a meme starts to die - its lifecycle, if you like.

  1. Meme is found by the underground people who spend all day on the internet - me and the rest of 4Chan (for those who don’t know, 4Chan is like the underbelly of the internet where the basement dwellers stay).

  2. Meme is funny for a week.

  3. Meme dies in the underground scene/altogether

This can be seen right here with the Harambe meme.


But sometimes the general public gets hold of these memes, and they see a resurgence: kJj0Tyye6fF9IONycmlIPYE1hL1aoQFKQTTvy_j7T564shrwTl89l_AOUpfuWEcFdHaKIIvPjoMpI9SViiHb1hH61_O6V-TRUA-0WeiGBTyR3adPWVCJzTe4OkVCEmUuzRe8pYq7

Even though Harambe was the longest lasting meme of the past few years, you can see how quickly it died after reaching its peak. This means that being one of the first people to post it on social media is crucial. If you’re late then it’s wasted effort.

Final thoughts

Use memes as a tool to show your audience what kind of a brand/company you are. Don’t try to force anything that isn’t you, as bad memes can backfire once the internet gets hold of them.

Simply have some fun with it - that’s what the rest of us are doing.