Meme Elitism is an online ideology rooted in the opposition to the popularization of memes among aboveground communities and the mainstream media. While elitism has been a staple element of online communities since the days of “Usenet” newsgroups, such disdain for the promulgation of meme culture can be seen as a countermovement to the growing influence of social media in the Internet culture which began in the late 2000s. Those who adhere to this belief tend to have ties with online communities that thrived before the arrival of Web 2.0 and view themselves as arbitrators of what a meme can be and cannot be. Meme elitists are people who take memes extremely seriously, to the point of attacking and sometimes even doxxing people who they consider “normies,” simply because they used a meme, and made it unfunny. The term “normie” is a slang pejorative label for an individual who is deemed to be boringly conventional or mainstream by those who identify themselves as nonconformists.
“Meme Elitists defy the limits of curiosity and psychological capacity of mankind’s intelect everyday, as evident in their artistic endeavours,” said senior Zachary Winner. “Meme Elitists, and Meme Elitists alone, make me question my own existentialism, as their pioneering ideas denounce the laws of time and space.”
Since memes are such dynamic entities, they have a tendency to fall out of use after time, especially once the joke or idea becomes stale. A prime example of this is “Demotivational Posters”, which gained their height of popularity in 2010, and have since fallen into disuse. Although one can still find examples of demotivational posters online, they are not received with the same enthusiasm as they once were. A distinction can be made between “old” and “dead” memes; an “old” meme still finds occasional usage, while a “dead” meme is rarely seen.
“Forced” memes, on the other hand, are memes that do not attain the spread that the creator desires. A “forced” meme generally relies on inside jokes or narrow humor that are not widely understood, and are heavily promoted by one or a small number of people. In many cases, “forced” memes exist as spinoffs of more popular memes. “Forced” memes are generally eschewed by net users who consider themselves to be “experienced,” such as those who frequent sites such as 4chan and KnowYourMeme. They also tend to look down on sites that popularize or facilitate the spread of what they consider to be “forced” memes, such as Reddit.
Meme Elitism is fueled by the mainstreamization of memes that were once viewed to have satirical value, but gained too much attention. Without Meme Elitists, the internet would be influxed with recirculated, basic memes, and there would be no variations in levels of comedic irony.