The Rise Of Internet Memes And How It All Started

If you are a frequent internet user or maybe you are active on social media, for sure, you have come across hilarious memes that you can’t help but share. You probably also wonder where memes came from and how it all started? It cannot be denied that funny memes have already been a massive part of online life. So if you want to know where ‘meme’ came from, this article is for you.

“Meme” – Where Did It Come From?

The first published ‘meme’ was back in 1976 in the book by Richard Dawkins, “The Selfish Gene.” Dawkins referred to it as “Mimeme,” a Greek word that means “that which is imitated.” Later on, the term was abbreviated to “meme” for its simplicity.

Dawkins first coined this term while trying to figure out how to measure ideas that are spread and developed throughout generations. And eventually, this is where the modern form of meme came from. It’s the replication, selection, and evolution of ideas on the internet.

Dancing Baby

You probably wonder, what was the first-ever internet meme? Those born in the 80s and 90s are familiar with this – the dancing baby. This meme quickly spread around the internet before it appeared in an Ally McBeal episode. The dancing baby was created by a graphic designer named Michael Girard back in 1996. He made software that shows how to program movements using Cha-Cha-Cha. This video quickly turned into a GIF and meme.

The Hampster Dance

Another popular internet meme back in the day was The Hampster Dance. This website featured an animated GIF of dancing hamsters to a faster version of “Whistle Stop.” The site was created by a Canadian art student with her sister and a friend for a competition in 1998. The competition was to see who could generate the most online traffic. To their surprise, in just eight months and after 600 views, the website went viral. And in just four days, the views grew from thousands, then millions.

The Evolution of Memes

With so many social media platforms these days, memes are so much easier to gain popularity. Some have even gone viral overnight. Before the internet, memes usually have revolved around politics and culture, unlike the memes of this generation where it’s simply for fun, focusing more on sarcasm, making them more relatable. It has moved away from its controversial topics. That’s one reason why it is easier to make them go viral.