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Created Jul 23, 2011
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Anders Behring Breivik

Anders Behring Breivik

Part of what makes memes popular is their tendency to go viral. However, in the wake of a large international tragedy, often the need for a meme creates a vacuum that is immediately filled by – something that tries to be a meme, that people hope will become a meme, but which is not exactly a meme per se.

It’s a bit backwards. One of the ways that people deal with large-scale death and tragedy is to create humorous ways to deal with it. A meme is a good example of this.

As memes become more popular, we are also facing people trying to create memes to get them to be popular, whereas originally meme popularity was a more organic and random event.

But the backwards part comes when there is no meme, yet one gets created in the hopes that it will become popular and representative of the tragedy so that people can talk about it and understand.

In the case of the shooting in Norway, allegedly perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik, a number of meme templates have been created, but the meme itself has not yet been established.

One of the things that makes a meme a meme is that it follows a particular, easily-recognizable format. For example, Socially Awkward Penguin, to name just one. The meme is more than the graphic. The penguin is socially awkward. Everything he does reflects that.

Here we have the graphic – a picture of Breivik. Yes, he killed a lot of people. Yes, there is the potential for a meme here, it just hasn’t fully developed yet.

But it is still being listed here because perhaps eventually a more identifiable meme will develop. It is also being listed here because people need to use humor to survive tragedy, to mourn, and to move on. Finding the humor in something is a way to help deal with difficult things.

Some notable attempts at meme creation center on swimming jokes, since Breivik picked so many people off who were trying to flee by swimming off the island where the shooting occurred.


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