5-speed listening (Memes - Level 6)

Author unhappy with use of the word 'meme'



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Memes are becoming a growing part of our everyday life and popular culture, especially online. Many of us know memes as the pictures and photographs that go viral on social media sites. People use them to make jokes or social and political observations. However, biologist and author Richard Dawkins, the originator of the word 'meme', is unhappy with how the Internet has defined a meme as a "picture with words". Mr Dawkins coined the term 'meme' in his 1976 book 'The Selfish Gene'. He said memes are ideas that spread from brain to brain and are replicated many times, much like genes. He told the BBC: "I'm not going to use the term Internet meme to refer to a picture with writing on it."

Memes have infused our culture to the extent that universities now offer degree courses on them. America's Northwestern University unveiled its Meme Studies course back in 2011. Britain's Sky News says memes have helped to make politics more accessible to young people. One Twitter user told a Sky journalist that: "Memes helped people understand more complex ideas, and that having politics framed in a different way makes it more digestible." This was obvious with how memes became a key part of how people expressed their views during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The vice.com website said: "Memes now have as much power, influence and reach as the propaganda posters of yesteryear."

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Memes - Level 4  |  Memes - Level 5

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