The Power of Memes to Connect

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A quick google of Wikipedia says a meme is, “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.  A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme.” The word meme has its roots in Greek meaning to imitate.

I propose that memes are much more than that: they are a creative way to express and connect near and far in our humanity.

Memes are one of the most interesting concepts on the internet for me right now. I cannot tell you how many times a friend or a client shares a meme with me saying, “I have had this on my phone for weeks, or printed it and put it on my mirror and it means so much to me.” I have seen people in relationships pass memes back and forth as a means to express how they feel, even when things are tough. Then there are the funny memes that spread like wildfire and give you a boost in the day. Memes can inspire, inform and relate.

How many times have you taken a screen shot of a meme with your phone to save for later or send to a friend, let alone private message one to a friend or share on a timeline? They give people the opportunity to share ideas, sentiments or images that are meaningful and timely.

I am a long time sharer of memes and a very recent maker of memes. My personal style is what I call “old school/new school” as all of my memes are either pictures of places I have been personally that were meaningful to me, or art that I have created. I like it that my memes are intimate in a place I have been or something I have touched, they are human. Mostly the backgrounds are painted circles of various arrangements that I most often paint while in session with clients. Painting circles soothes me and helps me listen better as I make art with people sharing the intimate details of their lives. Then I take these and put some kind of quote on them, whether it is mine or someone I admire. The memes are a form of daily creative expression.

Ultimately I make them for myself as a creative practice of expressing what’s going on in my life or what is important to me that day. My secondary intention and why I put them on my page is a hope that they are of benefit to someone else in some way. Even if they only get one like (which has happened many, many times), I hope that person had a moment of recognition and feeling. A moment of connection. What is surprising is how many I create go viral.

One meme I created that went viral was this:

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I posted this on a day where my own life was falling apart on many levels and I was really down and trying to cope. I had this painting that I had done in a session illustrating the power of imperfection and allowing space for creativity in chaos through making something that is messy. So the painting was paired with a journal entry and a meme was made.

It was picked up by other larger pages and communities and spread far and wide. I want to note that I have found in business that it is through connections and networking with other people of a similar mission and passion that we collectively cultivate success through support of one another. I am so grateful for the community I have in my geographical location and online. This is also the beauty of social networking and memes.

Within days over 30K people had an experience with my expression of “Life is Messy” from every continent and many different countries. The meme made me feel better as a way of expressing my feelings, but more importantly it taught me this: We are all connected, we all struggle with similar things and we are not alone. This awareness humbles me and inspires me. As silly as memes can be and as trivial as they may seem, we often take them for granted. I believe they are a powerful means of expression and connection that we have at our fingertips in today’s world.  

I would love to hear from you. What is your connection to memes? How do you feel they inspire, inform or keep you connected? How do you use them?

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