Memes and their function in digital online communities

Memes and Absurd Humor HCI research

Memes, often humorous viral forms of communication shared online, are increasingly a mode of communication for users in social digital spaces. Through a meme, which most often takes the form of an image coupled with text, a great deal of information can be quickly communicated to a viewer. Despite their influence and prevalence, there is surprisingly little research on memes. The motivation for creating memes, meme workflow, motivation for creation, and the impact (potentially persuasive) that memes have on viewers, are all open research lines of inquiry in the Human Computer Interaction field.

My research is especially concerned with absurd humor memes, of which there was well documented uptick during the 2016 presidential campaign. Perhaps most interestingly, the same absurd humor memes were used on both liberal and conservative politically-oriented Facebook pages and groups. My research will provide fundamental insights in many areas related to absurd humor memes, including their expressive role in contentious times, ways in which political ideology might affect perceptions of satire and absurd humor, all while filling out our understanding of the motivations for meme creation.