Excuse Me, Do You Speak Meme?

Pop Culture

Excuse Me, Do You Speak Meme?

Illustration: Sushant Ahire


hen Richard Dawkins first coined the word “meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, using lolspeak in public could land you in a mental asylum. The evolutionary biologist was using the term, wholly scientifically, to talk about any behaviour or idea that carries cultural symbols from person to person. He compared it to the gene, in the sense that it was a biological process of self-replication, only related to human behaviour and culture and not biology.

What Dawkins did not possibly anticipate was that this jargon-filled sentence would take form as a tackily dressed Japanese man singing about a pen and a pineapple on the internet 20 years later. Dawkins’ reaction might possibly have been, “Y u do dis?”.