Ms. Ayele, we just wrote a motivational slogan on a cat photo to cheer up our colleague.

Have we created a meme - a picture that comments or alienates a career on the internet?

Annina Metz

Editor for social media.

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Manon Priebe

Editor for social media.

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Sam Ayele: Was it funny?

Yes, yes.

Ayele: And you sent it to your colleague?

Sure, of course.

Ayele: Then it was a meme!

Memes have to be one thing above all - funny.

The most typical memes consist of a combination of images and text.

Memes also work with videos on TikTok.

Even if only a few people see it?

Ayele: Exactly.

Because with every meme there is always an ingroup and an outgroup, i.e. a group of people who see and understand the meme, and those who have no idea.

So it doesn't have to - by definition - have gone viral?

Ayele: There is no clear answer to that.

But my intuition is that it's always about memes - no matter who understands them, and regardless of who created them.

As long as it exists as a digital artifact and has been carried on, it's a meme.

What's the first meme in history?

Ayele: If we take evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins' original definition, then a meme is an idea or behavior that is propagated in a community through imitation.

Like genes that are passed on from person to person through heredity.

The ancient Greek word origin means "imitated things" or "imitate".

Probably the first meme originated in the Stone or Bronze Age when people started using language and tools.

These are the memes that really helped our development.

Unfortunately, we don't know what the very first meme was.

That could have been lost over time.

And the first online meme?

Ayele: The smiley :-) It spread like wildfire, and we still use it today, in the further developed form of the emoji.

Are memes like a universal language that can be understood everywhere?

Ayele: I wish it were you.

But even the most understandable memes won't reach people without the internet.

And the more specific the meme is, the smaller the ingroup becomes.

It's like a foreign language.

One can understand the syntax of a language, but not necessarily its meaning.

The meme template could then be something like the syntax that after a while you understand how it works.

The meaning is then another layer on top of the meme.

One has to understand each level to grasp the full meaning of the meme.

Yasmina Banaszczuk: On TikTok, subcultures and groups actually often connect through memes.

They share similar experiences and show it in a humorous or sarcastic way.

Are memes a sign of creativity?

Or is an idea simply copied umpteen times without a great deal of intellectual effort?

Ayele: Memes in themselves correspond to our definition of creativity.

Two completely separate building blocks are being put together in a way that has never existed before.

Of course there are more creative memes than others.

The more complex a meme, the more satisfying it is for the viewer.

Because then not only does the creation require a certain amount of effort, but also the understanding of the meme.

Banaszczuk: In order to create a meme, you also have to put something into it - your opinion, your voice or your very own view of things.

Please tell us the secret recipe for a viral meme.

Ayele: Unfortunately I can't.

But what science has discovered so far: Memes that go viral always combine the unpredictable and the unknown.

It has to be credible and scalable, appealing to users and adding value.

To do this, a meme must be divisible.

So people have to think, "My friends will like this too" and share it with them.

Banaszczuk: A good meme leaves room for interpretation.

The user must be able to relate the meme to himself.

Does it have to be low-threshold for this?

Ayele: A good meme leaves gaps that need to be filled.

Like a puzzle.

It leaves room for the viewer to interact instead of just reproducing one hundred percent of what you think.

A total of about 75 percent content, the other 25 percent has to be filled out by the viewer.

Should reputable parties use memes in their election campaigns?