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November 21, 2012 2:37 PM   Subscribe

You're on Facebook and many of your contacts are expressing their opinions, frustrations, affirmations and wit by means of shared and reposted .jpgs with some sort of text sentiment on them. Sometimes they're simply text, sometimes there is a background photo or illustration. What are these things called? Have we got a collective term for these graphic motto things?
posted by Lou Stuells to Computers & Internet (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've heard them called memes.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:39 PM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also image macros.
posted by empath at 2:39 PM on November 21, 2012 [18 favorites]


Memes. Unfortunately and irreversibly cheapening the original definition.
posted by Aquaman at 2:42 PM on November 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Depending on how ironically ridiculous they are I have been calling them INSPIRATIONAL HIPSTER.

otherwise memes
posted by elizardbits at 2:42 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, "image macro" is correct for that entire genre. Many image macros are memes, but not all of them are; and obviously there are many memes which aren't image macros.
posted by gilrain at 2:46 PM on November 21, 2012 [17 favorites]


Are the ones with rainbow calligraphy about being a strong woman crying inside who will always love her kids and a big arrow towards the profile photo and repost if you're one of the 1% who dares to admit you love Jesus and also you found the typo because you've got a strong mind - are those image macros or memes as well?
posted by Lou Stuells at 2:48 PM on November 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


I'm pretty sure they're called "annoying".

They're not memes necessarily, though some are. Memes have to go viral in order to be memes. I agree that image macros is right.
posted by windykites at 2:49 PM on November 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


Another vote for image macro.
posted by thecaddy at 2:51 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


you're actually describing a few different things. "inspiration porn" is the calligraphy over images, sometimes (problematically) involving people who are differently abled. image macros are the funny ones. the REPOST IF YOU AGREE/DISAGREE/LOVE JESUS etc are the sorts of things that used to be mostly confined to email fowards. the find the typo ones, if they weren't on facebook, would just be brain teasers, i think.
posted by nadawi at 3:05 PM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think of them as the bumper stickers of the Internet.
posted by Sublimity at 3:05 PM on November 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


The idea of a macro, generally speaking, is "I'm too lazy to do the hard work/go through all the proper steps, so I'll create a macro." It's a shortcut.

So your title is 100% spot on w/r/t these image macros. So much easier to copy and paste someone else's image, or click "Share", or "Like", than actually take the time to express yourself in a concise and meaningful way.
posted by sbutler at 3:06 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


An image macro can be a meme, but a meme is not always an image macro.

Restated another way: I may not always pass along memes, but when I do they're image macros.
posted by sacrifix at 3:07 PM on November 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm going to vote for meme, primarily because of how delicious it would be if the significance of the word meme were perverted and destabilized in a way that points out the lack of unity and stability among things formerly understood as memes.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:18 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would go with "image macro" probably. Like Aquaman, I feel like "meme" is too grand an idea to narrow it to internet fads.

The stuff about why you must repost this does tie into "meme" territory, since it is about looking at beliefs and behaviours as things that reproduce, and what attributes make something more or less likely to reproduce.

One aspect this is making me think about is the "meme" was meant as something that spreads from one mind to another. If you forget it five seconds after clicking "like" but it will still be on a server, spreading, is this a demonstration of the mind being externalized to the internet, or is it no longer a meme?

There are also chain letters as a good analogy. Are these chain macros? Chain images?
posted by RobotHero at 3:31 PM on November 21, 2012


[Folks, maybe serious answers please?]
posted by jessamyn at 3:32 PM on November 21, 2012


Notwithstanding the original definition they are absolutely memes, as much as any other internet meme anyways. They may not go viral in the places where "savvy" internet users hang out, but they do go viral.
posted by Lorin at 3:39 PM on November 21, 2012


They are memes; but are so other things. These are macros.
posted by spaltavian at 3:44 PM on November 21, 2012


Another vote for image macro. An image macro can be a category or subset of meme, but 'meme' is too broad a term to cover just these (animated GIFs, videos, snowclones, etc., can also be memes). And as others point out, not all image macros are memes (though the technique of making image macros can perhaps be thought of us a kind of meme template).
posted by Ms. Toad at 3:44 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is what the internet calls memes.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:49 PM on November 21, 2012


Are the ones with rainbow calligraphy about being a strong woman crying inside who will always love her kids and a big arrow towards the profile photo and repost if you're one of the 1% who dares to admit you love Jesus and also you found the typo because you've got a strong mind - are those image macros or memes as well?

Glurge.
posted by empath at 3:49 PM on November 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd agree with image macro. Memes are not all brilliant, but they are all things that have gone viral, often with many variations on a theme, and there's usually some witty/funny idea to them, as opposed to inspirational glurge.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:10 PM on November 21, 2012


It's a question of scope. In this context, memes are image macros that are popular enough to evolve. The cheezburger cat is a macro, LOLCats is the meme. Dos Equis guy started out as a macro that became a meme as (possibly astroturf) people started posting changes.
posted by rhizome at 4:35 PM on November 21, 2012


Oh yeah, I forgot about glurge.
posted by RobotHero at 5:03 PM on November 21, 2012


Not disagreeing with the two common responses, and also, I've seen the genre referred to as e-cards.
posted by melesana at 8:43 PM on November 21, 2012


Whatever you care to call them (I've heard "Facebook bumper stickers" a few times), they are in many cases making unpleasant people money. (Though what isn't)
posted by wreckingball at 10:24 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


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