Keywords

COVID-19 mask, diachronic corpus, meme, memetic construct, humour, viral

Abstract

Taking as its point of departure a fine-tuned definition of an Internet meme (vis-à-vis a memetic construct), this paper reports the findings of the first diachronic study of memes, the focus being on mask memes on the vast COVID-19 mask memescape evolving in the wake of the pandemic, relative to the changing socio-political situation. The study capitalises on a diachronic corpus of user-tagged COVID-19 mask memes (posted online from January 2020 to January 2021) collected from Google through a Python script. Based on a grounded-theory approach, ten memetic categories (clustered into four groups) are extracted and examined through a multimodal discourse analytic lens. The diachronic quantitative analysis shows that the memetic constructs, inspired by the current socio-political situation/events and facilitated by the socio-political context (e.g. going into lockdown), seem to persist, albeit with varied intensity, for the best part of the year, with many individual memes going viral. Memes’ and memetic constructs’ long lifespan is indicative of users’ primary goal, which is to share interesting and/or humorous (not always newly minted or relevant) items for the sake of fun, regardless of the memes’ nature (i.e. autotelic humour for its own sake or users’ commentaries on the surrounding reality).

View infography

References

Archakis, A., & Tsakona, V. (2021). Greek migrant jokes online: A diachronic-comparative study on racist humorous representations. Internet Pragmatics, 4(1), 28-51. https://doi.org/10.1075/ip.00063.tsa

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Aslan, E. (2021). Days of our ‘quarantined’ lives: multimodal humour in COVID-19 internet memes. Internet Pragmatics. https://doi.org/10.1075/ip.00075.asl

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Baldry, A., & Thibault, P.J. (2006). Multimodal transcription and text analysis. Equinox. https://bit.ly/35SB2hP

Link Google Scholar

Bischetti, L., Canal, P., & Bambini, V. (2021). Funny but aversive: A large-scale survey on the emotional response to COVID-19 humor in the Italian population during the lockdown. Lingua, 249, 102963. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2020.102963

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Blackmore, S. (1999). The meme machine. OUP. https://bit.ly/3pDvNcH

Link Google Scholar

Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford University Press. https://bit.ly/3toHSDP

Link Google Scholar

De-Saint-Laurent, C., Gl?veanu, V.P., & Literat, I. (2021). Internet memes as partial stories: Identifying political narratives in coronavirus memes. Social Media + Society, 7(1), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305121988932

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Demjén, Z. (2018). Complexity theory and conversational humour: Tracing the birth and decline of a running joke in an online cancer support community. Journal of Pragmatics, 133, 93-104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.06.001

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Dynel, M. (2021). COVID-19 memes going viral: On the multiple multimodal voices behind face masks. Discourse & Society, 32(2), 175-195. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926520970385

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Dynel, M., & Poppi, F.I.M. (2021). Fidelis ad mortem: Multimodal discourses and ideologies in Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter (non)humorous memes. Information, Communication & Society, 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1993958

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Huntington, H.E. (2016). Pepper Spray cop and the American dream: Using synecdoche and metaphor to unlock internet memes’ visual political rhetoric. Communication Studies, 67(1), 77-93. https://doi.org/10.1080/10510974.2015.1087414

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. MIT Press. https://bit.ly/3CbsPkM

Link Google Scholar

Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (2007). Online memes, affinities, and cultural production. In M. Knobel, & C. Lankshear (Eds.), A new literacies sampler (pp. 199-227). Peter Lang. https://bit.ly/3IAvGWR

Link Google Scholar

Kress, G.R., & van-Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading images: The grammar of visual design. Psychology Press. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203619728

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Lashua, B., Johnson, C.W., & Parry, D.C. (2021). Leisure in the time of Coronavirus: A rapid response Special Issue. Leisure Sciences, 43(1-2), 1-2. https://doi.org/10.1080/01490400.2020.1774827

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Lemish, D., & Elias, E. (2020). “We decided we don’t want children. We will let them know tonight”: Parental humor on social media in a time of coronavirus pandemic. International Journal of Communication, 14, 5261-5287. https://bit.ly/3CdymHm

Link Google Scholar

Lessig, L. (2008). Remix: Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy. The Penguin Press. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781849662505

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Machin, D., & Mayr, A. (2012). How to do critical discourse analysis: A multimodal introduction. Sage. https://bit.ly/3MnNUxa

Link Google Scholar

Mielczarek, N. (2018). The Pepper-Spraying Cop icon and its internet memes: Social justice and public shaming through rhetorical transformation in digital culture. Visual Communication Quarterly, 25(2), 67-81. https://doi.org/10.1080/15551393.2018.1456929

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Murru, M.F., & Vicari, S. (2021). Memetising the pandemic: Memes, COVID-19 mundanity and political cultures. Information, Communication & Society, 24(16), 2422-2441. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1974518

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Nguyen, M.H., Gruber, J., Fuchs, J., Marler. W., Hunsaker, A., & Hargittai, E. (2020). Changes in digital communication during the COVID-19 global pandemic: Implications for digital inequality and future research. Social Media+Society, 6(3), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305120948255

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Norström, R., & Sarna, P. (2021). Internet memes in Covid-19 lockdown times in Poland. [Memes de Internet en tiempos de confinamiento por Covid-19 en Polonia]. Comunicar, 67, 75-85. https://doi.org/10.3916/C67-2021-06

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Ross, A.S., & Rivers, D.J. (2017). Internet memes as polyvocal political participation. In D. Schill, & J.A. Hendricks (Eds.), The presidency and social media: Discourse, disruption and digital democracy in the 2016 Presidential Election (pp. 285-308). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315112824-15

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Shifman, L. (2013). Memes in digital culture. MIT Press. https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9429.001.0001

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Wiggins, B.E. (2019). The discursive power of memes in digital culture ideology, semiotics, and intertextuality. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429492303

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Wiggins, B.E., & Bowers, G.B. (2015). Memes as genre: A structurational analysis of the memescape. New Media & Society, 17(11), 1886-1906. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444814535194

Link DOI | Link Google Scholar

Crossmark

Technical information

Received: 18-11-2021

Revised: 03-01-2022

Accepted: 02-03-2022

OnlineFirst: 15-05-2022

Publication date: 01-07-2022

Article revision time: 46 days | Average time revision issue 72: 31 days

Article acceptance time: 104 days | Average time of acceptance issue 72: 75 days

Preprint editing time: 179 days | Average editing time preprint issue 72: 150 days

Article editing time: 224 days | Average editing time issue 72: 195 days

Metrics

Metrics of this article

Views: 22223

Abstract readings: 18306

PDF downloads: 3917

Full metrics of Comunicar 72

Views: 239973

Abstract readings: 216358

PDF downloads: 23615

Cited by

Cites in Web of Science

Dynel, M. Hashtag swearing: Pragmatic polysemy and polyfunctionality of #FuckPutin as solidary flaming JOURNAL OF PRAGMATICS, 2021.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2023.03.005

Cites in Scopus

Dynel, M.. Hashtag swearing: Pragmatic polysemy and polyfunctionality of #FuckPutin as solidary flaming), Journal of Pragmatics, .

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2023.03.005

Bageshwar, B.R., Zafar, S.. Beyond laughter and smiles: analytical paradigms in social media COVID-19 humour studies ), European Journal of Humour Research, .

https://doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2023.11.1.757

Yus, F.. Pragmatics of internet humour), Pragmatics of internet humour, .

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-31902-0

Cites in Google Scholar

Memes como instrumento de evaluación del aprendizaje. Un caso en la universidad C Suárez-Guerrero, E Passeron… - REDU. Revista de …, 2022 - riunet.upv.es

https://riunet.upv.es/handle/10251/191237

Hashtag swearing: Pragmatic polysemy and polyfunctionality of# FuckPutin as solidary flaming M Dynel - Journal of Pragmatics, 2023 - Elsevier

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378216623000607

Beyond laughter and smiles: analytical paradigms in social media COVID-19 humour studies BR Bageshwar, S Zafar - The European …, 2023 - w.europeanjournalofhumour.org

https://w.europeanjournalofhumour.org/ejhr/article/view/757

Download

Alternative metrics

How to cite

Dynel, M. (2022). The life of COVID-19 mask memes: A diachronic study of the pandemic memescape. [La vida de los memes de mascarillas del COVID-19: Un estudio diacrónico del panorama memético durante la pandemia]. Comunicar, 72, 73-85. https://doi.org/10.3916/C72-2022-06

Share

           

Oxbridge Publishing House

4 White House Way

B91 1SE Sollihul United Kingdom

Administration

Editorial office

Creative Commons

This website uses cookies to obtain statistical data on the navigation of its users. If you continue to browse we consider that you accept its use. +info X