The upbeat video “Gangnam Style” made history in December 2012 when it became the first YouTube video to reach one billion views. As a response, thousands of its viewers made and posted their own versions of the film in various styles, including “Mitt Romney Style,” “NASA Johnson Style,” “Egyptian Style,” and many more. One of the most well-known instances of an Internet meme is “Gangnam Style” (and the accompanying parodies, imitations, and derivatives). An Internet meme is a piece of digital content that swiftly circulates online in different iterations and develops into a shared cultural experience. Limor Shifman explores Internet memes and the cultural insights they provide in this book.
Shifman talks about a number of well-known Internet memes, such as “Leave Britney Alone,” the pepper-shooting cop, LOLCats, Scumbag Steve, and “We Are the 99 Percent” from Occupy Wall Street. She provides a novel description of Internet memes, which she defines as digital content units with shared traits that are produced with knowledge of one another and distributed, imitated, and altered by numerous users via the Internet. She distinguishes between virals and memes, investigates what makes virals and memes effective, outlines popular meme genres, talks about memes as new forms of political engagement in both democratic and nondemocratic regimes, and looks at memes as globalization agents.
Shifman contends that memes capture some of the essential tenets of both the participatory Web 2.0 culture in general and the Internet in particular. Although internet memes might be amusing, Limor Shifman makes a strong case in this book for considering them to be legitimate.