An Ode To Memes
Find out who's behind your favorite accounts.
One of my favorite take-a-break activities during the day is to take a scroll through my Instagram feed.
Although I enjoy seeing what friends have posted about their lives, my true Insta-obsession is the memes. I love memes! I especially love sharing the memes I love with the people I love.
What exactly is a meme?
The word meme comes from the Greek mimema, meaning imitated. The concept of a meme was introduced to the world in 1976 by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his work The Selfish Gene.
According to the website sproutsocial, “(Dawkins) thought that our concepts as a society spread from brain to brain, multiplying and mutating as they went. The resulting trends were his definition of a ‘meme.’ ”
Today, the term meme is used to describe internet memes, which are images, videos, pieces of texts, etc., that are copied and shared by internet users. Although the majority of memes are humorous, they can also be poignant or thought-provoking.
Some Instagram meme accounts are focused on specific topics, like relationships or parenting, while others target a demographic such as Gen X women. According to influencer marketing agency Mediakix, the most popular meme account currently is @epicfunnypage, with 17 million followers.
Who is behind a favorite meme account?
One of my personal favorite meme accounts is @vodkalana, run by Lana Black. Currently, the account is approaching 2 million followers, with 73 percent of her audience between the ages of 20–35, the same age as Black's daughters. Black herself is 65.
Black says, “I'm blessed with good genes, so I don’t look (definitely don’t act) my age.” Before starting her Inst-account, Black was a full-time realtor. When her husband passed away, her kids encouraged her to try something new and suggested she go on IG. Black says, “I started the account seven years ago [after she was widowed], but it really started to take off two years ago. I am truly amazed by how big my account is now.” Fans of Black’s content include Shannen Doherty, Kyle Richards, Jamie Lynn Spears and Kate Beckinsale.
Black works on her account all day, looking for memes she thinks her followers will find funny or interesting. She says, “I make a point to post things that will apply to someone’s current situation. Like a hangover or brunch post on a weekend morning or an “I hate my job” post on a Monday morning.” As Black’s page gains in popularity, she is happy to have the opportunity to pay it forward. She says, “I love finding and reposting the memes from smaller creators and watching their accounts grow, too.”
Memes say what I am thinking, only funnier!
Writer Heather McDonald says, “People revel in memes that put into words the way they feel about things and that challenge them to think about issues in new ways.”
I feel this way about Black’s content. She seems to really understand me and sometimes I wonder if she has a camera in my house. Black seems to anticipate my moods.
For example, take this recent post: “Every day around midnight, I’m shocked to find out it’s only 6 p.m.” Totally! With daylight saving time, I am always walking around my house in disbelief, thinking, How can it only be 6 p.m.! It is so dark, and I am exhausted! You really get me, vodkalana!
Turns out I’m not the only one who feels that way. Black says, “I often get comments (from followers) that ask, ‘How do you know me so well?’ ” (That post had over 25,000 likes.)
Sharing is (virtual) caring
As Black notes, “It has always been a thing for girlfriends to share information about something we like with each other.” We often share recipes, television show suggestions, best sales, etc.
But the pandemic has made sharing harder. We can't see our friends IRL. We have less to talk about since most of us have been spending the majority of our time at home. Plus, we are all a little (or a lot ) stressed out these days and can use a laugh.
McDonald says, “Memes offer a little bit of human connection in the digital realm, which can otherwise feel cold and isolating, just like an inside joke can in the offline world."
Which explains why Instagram meme sites are so popular right now. Many of us are feeling isolated. We crave connection and memes offer us that in an easy, simple way. We all want to have some inside jokes — even if they are online. Black, who normally has 1,000 to 3,000 requests to follow her site, had a 24-hour period at the beginning of the pandemic where her page had 17,000 follow requests.
For me, laughter is the best medicine for fighting loneliness and quarantine fatigue. Sharing a meme allows me to say things like this to a friend: “You are on my mind, friend”; “We are feeling the exact same way”; and “Hey lady! I really miss you!”
Black says, “These days, it is more important than ever to try and make a friend’s day a little better.” I totally agree.
When I see that little airplane turn red in the right corner of my Instagram screen, I smile. It tells me that a friend is thinking about me. We may be socially distanced, but we can still be (virtually) together.
Memes Courtesy Lana Black/@Vodkalana