I am amazed with the evolution of hyperlocal memes. From meme pages on specific communities like schools or cities, I've run many pages like them and it's funny to see what peers and communities find funny. It also puts people in a great position of power within the community and many meme pages use this to take up paid promotions but it is interesting to see that some pages use it to virtue signal and spread social messages. In a way, the admin is a respected community clown and their opinion is influential. I have personally used my own meme page on Mumbai for personal gain many times. I asked for a statistics tutor in the city, asked a local venue to give my friend a ticket to a concert, asked people to foster animals and it always worked! Not sure if this is relevant for meme development but I am fascinated by how these platform are used to spread secondary messages like ads or social content.
I am also mesmerized by how memes evolve within communities. In the Indian meme circuit, doge has become a character and has been stripped of its surreal characteristics and made a mouthpiece for edgy content. Animated doge, racist sexist homophobic doge with vermillion/saffron etc has been used extensively. Does this mean that doge is inherently edgy or right wing that it convergently evolved into similar applications among cultures? Much to think about
It's interesting how meme cultures became increasingly more specific and localised over the past decade. Memecultures frequently superimpose on top of other subcultures (e.g. fandoms are virtually always also memecultures now, provided the participants aren't too old or offline), and locality itself acts like a kind of subculture. More precisely, being online and living in a specific region is like a kind of subculture.
The Internet enables subcultures to exist even without a locally concentrated following (a requirement for analogue subcultures). In other words, it allows subculturalists to bypass geographic constraints, which would have been a barrier to participation in the past. At the moment I think that language is still a powerful barrier, as is locality in the sense of "living in a specific region as a kind of subculture". That means that certain nuances in memes get lost in translation and then the remaining components result in a heavily mutated population of descendant memes, through founder effect:
I think it's usually a great thing for memes whenever that happens. I very much like the fact that Pepe has become a much more politically neutral meme in East Asian memecultures (e.g. HongKong, where it's become a symbol of liberal democracy; and Korea, where it's just used as a reaction image by all sorts of people, and doesn't carry the same level of controversy that makes it anathema to most uses). Something really similar has also happened with Twitch reclaiming Pepe as well; online platforms are of course not like geographic locations, but they do act a lot like them.
There's a french page specifically about french local stuff (that is, not Paris)
It's called Mèmes décentralisés (decentralised memes), or Memes décentralisés pour provinciaux et francophones oubliés (decentralised memes for provincials and forgotten francophones) before they migrated to instagram. It became a bit normie and they overexploit some formats now but it used to be pretty good. I also shook the guy's hand in Grenoble one day lol
Now they also have parallel projects such as bike trips around the city. Closer to the idea of locality, the page organised a contest for France's most beautiful cathedral; Strasbourg won and they had an apéritif over there, which is a practice associated with non-parisian and southern lifestyles.
They even have a wikipedia page : Memes Décentralisés - Wikiwand
I'd say that hyperlocal meme pages/groups are not pressured to innovate their meme game (e.g. catch up with trends) too much, nor do they need to update every single piece of news of the community they service. For instance, I've seen quite a few uni/school pages reuse simple wojaks or Drake multiple times to meme about their decades-long inner jokes, and still keep a solid amount of following. Granted, tackling old gags with relatively new media formats (meme) is still something worthy of exploitation.
I think the way innovation comes from these smaller pages/groups are either a) The key actors like admins force their agendas onto the followers or b) Something random the page made got picked up by other parts of the platform. Bigger innovations like changing the meaning of doge and pepe would require a wider community, like general-purpose pages/groups of national scale. Still, not needing to chase after new esoteric meme templates may serve well, as admins get some free space to think, meme, and make scenario b) happen more often. And free space for personal gains and spreading messages as well.
Wow, interesting to see how much bigger their Insta page is compared to their Fb one. It's a real mark of mainstream success for a memepage or group to get listed on Wikipedia too. I think one of the earlier memegroups to get one was NUMTOT (New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens).
I agree with you the most, with the caveat that the locality is inherently innovative; it's shooting fish in a barrel to make memes that happen to be new, if the subject matter is new (to memeing). When there's some viral news (e.g. black hole picture, some controversial business happening), there's sometimes a gold rush to make the most obvious memes about it using the most well-known templates. It's similar to new character announcements being followed by fan art being pumped out as fast as possible.
I love this point a lot. It's a ton of pressure for the memers if they have to be on the cutting edge with their memetic techniques and also think deeply about the subject matter.
There's been a huge uprising of this kind of thing around Sydney, mostly centred around an account called Newtown Affirmations (Newtown is probably one of the most hipster mid/post gentrification suburbs near Sydney CBD). It's the hub of maybe a dozen pages that focus on Sydney's Inner West region, they've colloquially referred to themselves as 'the innerwest she/they shitposting network'. I think 1 or maybe 2 are straight men but the majority of the admins seem to be queer and femme or strongly maintain anonymity.
The Will Smith Slap meme is one I submitted to Newtown Affirmations, which has adapted the general shape of the meme to a map of the Newtown area (map attached for context). I think its a cool example of the fresh content from overused templates.
It's also nice to see the pages function as community noticeboards that communicate current events through memes, whether it's about the pet goat someone walked through Newtown on a leash, the floor collapsing at the newly renovated theatre or mice eating all the protein powder at the local chemist
I'm amazed too! I'm a part of a few hyperlocal meme pages as well- one of which is specifically for a distinct type of English teacher role in my specific area of Japan. This group has spawned several niche inside jokes that I find fascinating.