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Opinion: Memes are more than just funny pictures

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It seems that memes have quickly become the new language of a generation and culture.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a meme as "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture,” but you might define them better as the memes you share on Facebook and Twitter every day.

Memes have evolved far beyond just the passing on of a behavior.

They are customizable, relevant and now more accessible to make than ever with meme generator websites or any free or paid photo editing software.

From the days of “Scumbag Steve” and “Condescending Wonka,” memes have always described a relatable feeling or situation, and users can recreate them again and again.

Memes have become political, nostalgic, ironic and even dark sometimes — they are direct reflections of the people who make and share them.

These perfectly packaged feelings are a new source of communication, as they are able to show emotion and opinion without too much depth.

The internet is a vast place to express yourself, but the worry about sharing too much is a justified fear, so memes create a way of showing humor, anger or sadness that is relatable, but not vulnerable.

Baby boomers seem to like to argue that millennials are “killing” communication (and the napkin industry apparently) but, truthfully, millennials seem to keep inventing more and more nuanced ways of communicating, including memes and GIFs.

And these new methods of communication have real world impact.

Not only do internet memes have the power to make the most unsuspecting people famous overnight (see: Danielle from Dr. Phil), but they also have the power to destroy reputations and threaten safety.

While Brock Turner may not have served adequate time in jail, his face and crime were shared in memes over and over throughout the internet, leading to nationwide controversy, an angry mob of protestors at his house and his name being remembered infamously forever.

Memes also distribute news, but sometimes fake news.

Their irresistibly convenient format makes memes easy to share, but numbers and ideas should always be fact-checked because they are, in fact, user-created.

While there is certainly still a place and need for traditional writing in our culture, the internet thrives on brevity and humor.

The internet will only continue to produce more methods of communication, and users should continue to invent and embrace them.

Millennials and their favorite methods of communication have the chance to make a unique mark on the internet and popular culture. They can potentially inspire new digital art, writing, technology and features of web development.

There is no death of communication, but, in fact, a birth of many more forms — memes and similar formats are additions to newspapers, radios and face-to-face chats.

As the world moves further into the technology age, the internet’s whopping 1.9 billion global users continue to rise.

With more than a third of the planet on the internet, internet language, like memes, will only become more popular.

Embrace them, and you won’t be forever alone.