What is a meme? I have had trouble wrapping my head around that this week. When Peter Kittle first told me we would be making memes the second week, I had in mind those lists of things that someone starts and posts on Facebook and then pretty soon everyone is doing them. A few years ago there was the one that floated around for a while, “25 Random Things About Me.” This one was so fun and ego-stroking. I could think deeply of all the (possibly) interesting things about myself and write them down, then share them publicly and challenge others to do the same. That is not the kind of meme Peter had in mind.
He was thinking of memes like I’ve posted in here. The thing about a meme is that it has to be understandable by someone other than yourself, it has to strike home somehow. It might be about a trending news story, like Peter’s meme below (I’m just the model. The biter):
It was just yesterday that Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan soccer player bit the shoulder of an Italian player in the World Cup, so everyone is talking about it today, even people who aren’t particularly invested in the World Cup games (Like me). It takes a basic idea that lots of people will understand and then extends it to a different situation that will also be mutually understandable. OMG! This is way more complex than the LOLCATZ pictures would lead one to believe!
Last night , when thinking back on my last school year I struggled with this one:
I know, it’s sort of NSFW, and yeah, that sentence is part of the meme of the honey badger, an animal which particularly captured the imagination of my difficult seventh graders last year. The sentiment is one I own, thinking back on that school year. What’s your point? But I played with lots of wording for this meme and feel that I still didn’t get it quite right. I found it burrowing around in my mind long after I quit working on it. I kept trying to capture in these few little words the intention I was feeling when I made it.
The thing that is tricky about a meme is the connection that it creates or furthers. It can be clever as anything, but if no one else gets it, well, no one else gets it and it’s not going to go anywhere. I think that is the problem with my honey badger meme. I get it, and I suppose that if you’d read my teacher blog this year you’d get it too. But otherwise maybe not. Plus the wording…well, yeah. Making a good meme requires some thought.
Last night in the CLMOOC discussion hangout, someone talked about using memes in a classroom to synthesize meaning from a text. I am excited about this idea and trying to figure out how I might do this next year. It’s a pretty interesting idea, actually. I’m definitely putting the Meme-Generator app on the classroom iPads. If I can figure out a way to use it, then maybe it’ll be a good addition to how we demonstrate understanding of text. That remains to be seen however.
Off to make more memes!