Article published in:The Pragmatics of Internet Memes
Edited by Chaoqun Xie
[Internet Pragmatics 3:2] 2020
► pp. 145–173
Internet memes we live by (and die by)
In the internet age, memes are at once products and driving forces of social practices. A meme contains a memetic message and a meme output, and boasts, if guided by a pragmatic way of thinking, several features, including but not limited to salience, frequency, adaptability, argumentativity, sociality, embeddedness, embodiedness, locality, relativity, emotionality and dynamicity. The current global COVID-19 pandemic serves as a fitting and timely touchstone to testify how human beings are surrounded by numerous good and evil memes in the online world, and how internet memes, as can be seen from the illustration of two specific memes, namely, the ‘stay home, stay safe’ meme and the ‘wear a mask’ meme, are impacting human life-worlds, online and offline, with their transformative power, be it constructive or destructive. Moreover, researching how memes plays a decisive part in internet-mediated interaction provides a lens of insight through which ‘deep states’ of human nature of both self and others can be uncovered and through which what Nietzsche called “a revaluation of values” is possible.
Keywords: internet memes, memetic message, meme output, misinformation, infodemic, COVID-19, face mask, transformative power, self-knowledge, other-knowledge, human nature
Published online: 13 October 2020
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