33 min
By: ENC Leaders

Episode 7: Meme Culture

Memes are everywhere–in our GCs, our personal messages, our social media posts, and even on the GIFs. Why do memes become viral? Can they actually be helpful in advancing God’s kingdom?

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3:00 Meme Culture

  • Memes are prevalent nowadays. They are part of our culture now.
  • Memes cover different kinds of topics and they reflect our thoughts and our daily lives.
  • Memes reflect the culture and subculture of specific people groups. They also talk about the latest trending topics.

4:41 What makes memes relatable?

  • Memes are easy to make, random (grab a photo and add a text to make it funny), and relatable
  • Memes reflect simple day-to-day activities. These are things that  we easily take for granted, and then when they are posted as memes, they become funny.
  • The power that memes have lies on their potential to become viral once someone posts them. That’s when you realize that you have shared experiences with the majority.

7:27 What is a meme?

  • The word “meme” first appeared in Richard Dawkins book, “The Selfish Gene” (1976)
  • A study to understand human behavior through biological and evolutionary lenses.
  • Meme, as defined by Dawkins, “convey the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.”
  • He used memes as an analogy to a gene, which is a basic physical unit of heredity that makes up who we are as a person. Came from the word “mime” which means imitation.
  • In a cultural or societal sense, it is a unit of our cultural inheritance wherein a piece of information (such as a song or story) that makes up a society, is passed on. This is a cultural inheritance that can be passed on through word of mouth from one  generation to another.
  • In the same way, memes mirror the current makeup of our society.
  • Memetics – study of information and culture, an evolutionary model of cultural information transfer.  (Kantorovich, Aharon, An Evolutionary View  of Science: Imitation and Memetics)


  • Memes can be a representation of humanity.
  • Memes are more than just a micro-image and overlay of text. It’s good to ask who are the people behind the meme and know the context behind the photo and text.
  • It’s not just a text, it represents something.
  • Just because it’s funny, viral, or it feels good, it doesn’t mean the message is right.

13:25 Virality of memes

  • “Viral” posts are posts that get a lot of engagement in social media.
  • The behavior of viruses transferring from one person to another is the same behavior that memes portray in the online world. Memes become viral depending on the people who share them. As long as there are people who are sharing a meme, it will stay alive on the internet. 
  • Not only do memes provide entertainment, they are also used to drive a point, especially on social issues. With this, we can practice discernment, diligence, and wisdom to know and understand where the meme came from, so that we are not the ones who will propagate a wrong message or thought. 
  • If we share something and we are not careful, we might be spreading the wrong thing under the guise of being funny, but in reality, the context is far from being funny. (ex: A funny viral meme using a photo of a famous criminal which attempts to make the crime seem lighter)
  • In the social media world, everything can be a meme. From tragedies, serious political events, or shows, people are on the lookout for what’s meme-worthy. However, because everything can be made into a meme, the seriousness of a certain issue can be watered down. The actual message might not get its message across well because images or clips can be re-purposed based on what the maker/sharer wants to portray.


  • Memes can also be used to make a statement in a satirical manner.
  • People can post memes to express their discontent. Memes are a way for people to bring out their discontent or anger in a way that is funny to help them drive a point.
  • However, not all issues have to be a meme, there is a tension that we need to be aware of: Are we creating a space for meaningful conversations or should we express it only through jokes or satire?
  • This goes the same for any pop culture or life in general: memes prove its effectiveness in reaching people, but it also has its pitfalls in communicating a message.
  • Journalists can use memes for satire. Companies can also use them as part of their marketing strategy to sell their brands.
  • This means, if we really want to put something out there in a relevant way, we can use memes to get our message across. Therefore, we can use memes to advance God’s kingdom.

20:40 Memes and Campus Ministry

  1. Know why people use memes.
  1. Need for Validation – It’s human nature for us to want to be affirmed through people’s reactions. There’s a sense of validation if people find your meme relatable or funny.
  1. Sense of Belonging – The search for validation leads us to find a community. It helps us find that sense of belonging when people share or react to your meme.
  1. Make a point / Start a conversation – People use memes to connect to others.
  • In terms of doing campus ministry and advancing the kingdom of God, we need to understand that memes can be used to satisfy the need for validation and belonging or to make a point. We can use memes to connect to other people to speak in these areas. We can propagate the message of the gospel through memes.


  1. Know what the meme will highlight when we share it.
  • Be sensitive, discerning, and careful to know the context of the memes that are being shared or we want to share. There might be sensitive issues, scandalous events, or questionable ideologies that a meme represents.
  • Do your research. Before consuming or sharing a meme, know the context first.
  • Know the trend. Check the memes that are mostly shared by students. This gives us ideas on what gets the attention of the students. We can use this as a leverage to start a conversation with students and strangers.


  1. Practice responsibility and discernment before consuming and sharing memes on the internet.

What’s our framework in social media when it comes to posting and sharing memes?

Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

  • Just because it is trending doesn’t mean it is share-worthy.
  • Ask the following questions:
  1. Is it true? Does it speak the truth? We want to be part of telling the truth.
  2. Is it honorable? Do they promote honor? Memes can be tools for cyber bullying, whether directly or indirectly.
  3. Is it just? Is this impartial or fair?
  4. Is it pure? Does it promote sexual and emotional purity?
  5. Is it lovely?
  6. Is it commendable?
  7. Is it excellent?
  8. Is it worthy of praise?


  • If the internet is a world in itself, it can be polluted. We don’t want to add to the pollution because of the memes that we share or use.
  • This is not just about sharing or consuming. It is our responsibility to be mindful of what we consume. Ask: Is this post helpful to anyone?
  • Whatever we consume or allow our eyes to see will affect our hearts and minds. This will reflect on what we post.
  • Let us guard our consumption and use our sharing to honor God and make disciples.
  • If memes reflect the reality of the society we are living in, it provides information or a signpost to what the world needs right now. We can use this information to point the people to the kingdom of God.

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