If have been on the internet for any certain period of time, you would have you have encountered at least one meme. A meme could potentially be anything. From certain pictures, to a certain catchphrase, to whole stories, these memes perpetuate through out the internet. Yet, these memes, contrary to popular belief, are not exclusive to the internet, in fact the definition of "meme" and its role, is different than what people assume.

Memes are "ideas", or often a set of ideas. They can be, stories, gimmicks, idioms and more, as long as they contain an idea or set of ideas. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", is a an example of a simple meme that most of us know. The individual simple meme is taken as a whole. A meme taken from "Skyrim", a popular roleplaying video game, demonstrates this quite excellently, the meme is "Arrow in the knee". This little sentence, a source of amusement, is actually grammatically incorrect. The correct version is to the knee. Even if the persons were to be corrected, they would continue on with the incorrect version, as that is the meme. The complex meme, a story for instance, maintains at its core the original mantra, or message but mutates its shell. Such that, stories of a knight saving a princess, come in many forms, but all have the "same" plot.

In many ways, a meme is more of a "social teaching tool", than anything else. On the internet, in real life, in fiction and in novels. What do I mean by "social teaching tool"? I mean, memes operate on a social level, and teach little things that people found useful, entertaining or just liked. They can, at the simplest level, as the 2nd law of thermodynamics, spread themselves across the whole spectrum and are much more common in areas of easy communication and visitation (and is why they are much more pervasive on the internet.) At the complex level, instead of the whole meme, the core is what transfers, the values, or the central pivot of the original meme. Parodies on the Internet are examples of more complex memes being mutated. Other examples are, songs that use the same meter, are also in effect the same memes. I would like to emphasize that both types of memes, not only the simple ones, obey the law 2nd law of thermodynamics. For instance, Gangham Style, a complex song meme, which, has been parodied (i.e mutated) to far and wide, has succeeded in becoming a well-known meme across both the internet and into the real life spectrum. Except, unlike heat, when memes reach "room temperature" so to say, they become "fully saturated", where a large portion of the internet or any large community is aware of the meme. This leads to the meme being replaced in favour of a new meme. Thus the cycle becomes a new.

It would be foolish to think, that memes simply are things that come and go. Memes are often nowadays, due to the anonymity of the internet, and social stigma associated with games and other material, used as a signal to others who are aware of the meme, that they are a part of a group or are a fan of a group and idea. Sort of an identity card. As an extensive "Portal" player, a physics puzzle game. I am keenly aware if someone says, "The Cake is a Lie" or "speedy thing in, speedy thing out", that these simple meme, alert me , that he/she either is a fan of "Portal" and/or plays it. Likewise, if someone starts singing "Still Alive" or "Want you Gone", these complex memes, all mark one as a member of a fan or player community, in this case part of the "Portal" community. In terms of symbols, the orange"lamda", means nothing to the normal person, but to a "Half-Life" player, it means something entirely. Unlike, the "social teaching tool" role, these kinds of memes don't die as fast. These become part of an identity. So that new and old players or book readers (Harry Potter's thunderbolt!) or movie goers (Rocky Horror Show!) can identify one another as fellow fans or whatnot of the same community or underground culture.

Part of the bigger reason, why people seem to think memes are native to the internet, is because of the newfound speed a meme can spread. Days before the Internet, a meme could be found more locally, it was more of an national idea if it was spread farther than the locally. No one, could really feel the effects of a meme, and point to a certain something and claim it was a meme. Mostly because, memes then took their time to get around and become idioms. " An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Makes no sense, but we still say it.