Popular Internet Meme Templates through the Semiotic-Symbolic Interactionist Lens: A Look into Meme Culture
Keywords:Meme, Semiotics, Symbolic Interactionism, Meme Culture.
This study analysed popular internet meme templates as a form of cultural expression by using the theories of semiotics and symbolic interactionism. It revealed the popularity of these templates, how it allowed a select group to communicate particular emotions in a distinct culture than other forms of language representations permit and if a specific group can understand the semiotic and symbolic-interactionist meaning of memes by making their own templates. An explanatory sequential mixed method was used which included thirty Graduate School students from a selected private university. Five templates were presented and respondents were asked to answer questions intended to reveal their culture and perceived understanding of the context and purpose of memes. The study showed that respondents were able to identify the semiotic meaning of the memes presented, and can identify the signifier-signified used in each template. The difficulty lies on the understanding of the symbolic-interactionist meaning where respondents tend to take the “surface” rather than the “subliminal” meaning. This was affected by some factors: a) familiarity and interest with memes. b) personal understanding of meme semiotics. c) syntax used in the creation of memes. The study recommends that people who intend to use memes for instruction such as educators should be exposed in the appropriateness of memes relative to their use in teaching. This can be done by coaching teachers on both semiotic and symbolic-interactionist contents of a meme template they wish to use in their instruction.
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