Memes, those images that make everyday life more bearable and to which people dedicate a good part of their time to surf social networks, have become an essential element in today’s culture. Its relevance and incidence in society has reached such a point that they have gone from the everyday to the academic field.
The study of memes and their impact has become a legitimate area of research for some institutions of higher education. For example, Kate Miltner, a 29-year-old student, took her passion for the ‘LOLcats’ page and took it to the London School of Economics, England, where she works on a Master of Science in Media and Communications with a focus on the memes
Another institution that will offer a specialization in Meme Studies is Northwestern University in the United States after several students asked the university for a complete program on this discipline of the 21st century.
The program is developed in partnership with the School of Journalism of Northwestern University that also offers a series of courses on the current market of media and social networks. Koan Linsenmeier, deputy director of the institution’s curriculum, revealed to the British newspaper The Independent the new courses offered by the ‘Department of Internet Memeology’: ‘Introduction to Redditology’, ‘History of the Internet: IRC, / b / and Beyond ‘, and a 300-level course in’ Sociology of Rage Comic ‘.
“At Northwestern, our goal is to offer an education that gives our students the opportunity to impact the world in a very real way, the Internet Memeology Department will be giving our students the tools to do this,” said Linsenmeier.
This step of the American private university is being praised as an innovative movement in an academic field still in development, which aims to study the ways in which memes reflect and influence society. Other universities such as Yale or Chicago are following suit and have begun to implement courses such as “Philosoraptor and Society” among their academic program, and pay figures like rapper Xzibit only to give lectures on recursion.
“We live in a world based on memes, you can not deny that,” said Grant Richards, a sociology professor at Northwestern University. “Although it may not be considered standard academic material, I think it is an important movement for the academy, which shows that we are embracing the changing culture and do not remain stagnant,” he added.
But, how much does a professional of memes charge?
Although the academic discipline of memes is something completely new and, therefore, the studies on the economic retribution of these careers are scarce, the truth is that these illustrations, as viral elements, are here to stay. More and more web pages and companies that hire people to dedicate themselves exclusively to this work as part of their digital or marketing strategy. In fact, the companies and brands take advantage of the humor that the memes use and the simplicity with which they explain complex phenomena to be publicized for the younger generations.
For example, the Italian luxury firm Gucci hired some well-known meme creators for its #TFWGucci (The Feeling When, which means ‘what you feel when’ campaign). The chosen artists were @beigecardigan, @williamcult and @youvegotnomale, people with an immense legion of followers, due to their creativity and speed to take advantage of the news to make humor. Gucci’s bet was a success: it was not normal for a luxury brand to use this tone in their social networks, but they knew how to renew themselves to get fully into the millennial current.