‘The medium is the message’ is an idea coined by Marshall McLuhan in 1964. Without going into specifics (because he definitely didn’t), this means that the form a piece of content takes is more important than the content itself.
This can apply to internet memes. A few important points about memes are
- As a text, they are easily digested requiring minimal time/effort investment
- Due their small nature, they must be easily understandable to be successful
- On a basic level, the goal of a meme is to be entertaining/funny
- Because of the above points, memes often go viral more than other mediums
- They are current, a product of the recent digital revolution
These points make the meme a powerful medium. Posting a meme signifies that the creator is relatable, up to date, and human. This coupled with the easily spread nature of memes makes them an ideal tool to influence many people at no monetary cost.
This has led to memes being used by the CIA, the police force, and even Clive Palmer to support their varying interests.
The nature of a meme couples humour with an idea, which makes the idea more attractive to responders.