May I be pedantic about “fake memes”?

“is this meme a fake?”

No. If an idea is out in the wild, being reproduced by folk then it’s not a fake meme – it is actually a meme. The given basis for starting the meme could be a total crock, but the meme itself is real. You know that because you can see it: look, there it is!

For a meme to be fake, we’d have to be talking about an activity or idea that wasn’t real, e.g. if we were all tweeting something like

LOL the #fizzwhizzcheesewhizz meme where you make a video of someone snorting spray cheese & popping candy ROFLCOPTER

and there was no shared practice of making those videos, then we’d be talking about a fake meme. Of course, if lots of us started tweeting and blogging and chatting about #fizzwhizzcheeswhizz then referring to the fictional video phenomenon would actually be a meme in it’s own right.

That’s pretty meta right there. I need to lie down.

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: