Friday, November 7, 2014

Transmission V. Ritual in Memes

This week, I wanted to focus on Christian contradiction as an atheist fixation when looking at three memes from my sample. In "Memes in Digital Culture," Shifman points to two characteristics of memetic communication: Communication as Transmission (for the purpose of imparting information quickly to spread to the masses) and Communication as Ritual (the shared beliefs, values, symbols and cultural sensibilities) (60-61). I felt the the memes below are representative of ritual, because of their disbelief of God and rejection of religion is how this particular Facebook group enacts their identity as atheisits.

Meme 1

In this Advice God meme above (which can be read about here in my previous post), the text is referring to the shared belief that religion, likely the "Christian God," is a set of contradictions that is not resolute in his sentiments towards the people he created. Because we don't have any more information other than this meme about the reason behind it was posted, we have to infer that from the community's previous actions. They are renouncing the Christian belief that God's love is actually "unconditional." In terms of virility, this particular meme is not viral in a sense of the number of shares it received, but thousands of people were reached through this particular meme.

This meme doesn't really employ a strong humor element to it, however it does facilitate an element of anxiousness and in that regard, it has reached viral success. It is not "viral" however in the fact that it hasn't reached a high circulation. The admin of this site is likely inferring that either religious beliefs forcibly construct its own tailored ideas of what "God's love" is or that "Gods' love" is a fictitious element of spirituality.

Meme 2

Before I discuss the content of meme 2, I want to rehash its origin. Above, we have Unpopular Opinion Puffin, which is a part of the advice animal macro series. It's believed to have first appeared on the online in 2010 on That Cute Site. In July of 2013, it was featured in a subreddit, where someone then decided it would be a good alternate for "Confession Bear."The meme is meant to spread unpopular opinion about a particular belief.

In this particular puffin meme, the unpopular belief being addresse is that of salvation, the belief that if you choose to believe and practice a certain set of beliefs, than you will go to heaven, or have eternal life after death. The counter opinion being expressed here is that salvation is really an excuse or cop out or scare tactic for people who are afraid of going to hell. Salvation would enlist someone to practice or strive for morality, so the admins of this Facebook page are drawing that connection. 

Unpopular Opinion Puffin does not really meet either of qualifications for viral or memetic success. I would say that it reaches potential in both, but not success. However if you know the history of this particular meme, it's humorous because you know that an unpopular opinion when viewing religions is that people are not authentic in their sentiment regarding how they practice their faith. This meme is memetic in a sense that it was personalized on a renouncement of a particular belief, that this particular atheist community may be able to identify with.

Meme 3

Meme 3 is a post that the Atheist meme page took from "We F****ing love Atheism" Facebook page. I couldn't find the original post, unfortunately. (I'll keep digging).  This meme employs a simple message the admins of Atheist Meme Base want to convey: Science is a legitimate form of healing over religion. This meme meets the qualifications of both viral and memetic success, because of the strong emotion employed and the simplicity of the message. The will obviously be interpreted differently depending on who is looking at the meme. Christians would likely either feel indifferent or angry, given the fact that the biblical interpretations do not solely encompass physical healing. The Atheist group however, clearly find the juxtaposition humorous, because the end result is a rationale statement, backed up with visual evidence. It's viral potential lies in that would likely emit emotion in both groups of people. 

Each of these memes, finds an element of humor to shed light on religious contradiction. For Meme 3, the comment section was extensive with opinions, however for meme 1. The comment section was much different. Each of these memes also fit the qualification of virility. One thing I've noticed with these memes is that the more structured and clever memes increase in their qualifications for virility, because they prompt responses from people.

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