The term “meme” was first coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene; it is a shortening of the Greek word mimeme, which means “imitated thing”. The term refers to an idea or phenomenon that spreads from person to person within cultures.
Memes have since become deeply ingrained in 21st-century pop culture. They began as images with funny captions, often based on TV shows or viral videos, sent between internet users. They have evolved into a form of shared self-expression, and communication both among and between cultures. They are simple yet powerful way of conveying an emotion or an idea.
Local website 9gag was the original breeding ground for these memes. It was created in 2008 “just for fun” by University of Hong Kong student Ray Chan, his brother Chris Chan, and three other friends. 9gag does not take credit for any of the memes on its site. It emphasises that the platform is run by fans and users, and its goal is to encourage people to spread the fun.
The encouragement is hardly needed; memes have taken on a life of their own – and they don’t seem to be disappearing any time soon.
In honour of the website’s 11-year anniversary on July 1, Young Post’s cadets decided to revisit the all-time classic memes that have taken 9gag and the rest of the internet by storm – but with a personalised twist, just for Hong Kong students.
This image of a dinosaur, seemingly deep in thought, was originally created by designer Sam Smith for a line of T-shirts sold by the online retail shop LonelyDinosaur. Now the image is usually paired with captions that poke fun at or parody philosophical questions.
2009 : Crying Michael Jordan
In September of 2009, Michael Jordan, a famous basketball player, gave a speech where he was emotional a few times. One of these moments was captured and turned into a famous meme.
2010 : Creepy, condescending Willy Wonka
This meme comes from the Gene Wilder musical Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and it has become associated with sarcastic captions.
2011 : Is this a Pigeon?
This snapshot was taken from the 90’s anime tv show called The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird where the protagonist thinks that a butterfly is a pigeon.
2012: Grumpy Cat
2013 : Doge
A doge is a term coined for the japanese breed, Shiba Inus. The meme combines a picture of a doge and the phrases “wow” “many” and “much” in comic sans font.
2014: Confused Girl
9Gag was one of the first places this meme was seen. It shows a confused girl, who is in fact Keisha Johnson from the US state of Alabama. The captions generally describe a frustrating or confounding situation.
2015: Hotline Bling
This meme features two images of the Canadian rapper Drake, taken from the music video of his song Hotline Bling. He looks approving in one, and disgusted at the other. The captions often mock people’s tendency to do things they know they shouldn’t.
2016 : Roll Safe Think About It
Kayode Ewumi plays the character Reece Simpson in a web series called Hood Documentary in 2016, and a snapshot of him looking clever has been used famously all over the internet.
2017: Distracted boyfriend
Also known as ‘Man Looking at Other Woman’, this meme is based on a stock photo by Antonio Guillem.
2018 : Gru’s plan
The meme format comes from the movie Despicable Me, where Gru attempts to explain his plan but his daughters hijack the third slide which he looks at confusedly.
2019 : Nobody
This text based meme is a template used to mock people or unwanted thoughts/opinions. Though the meme came out in end 2018, it has been used more commonly in 2019.