Memes have been deeply integrated as an identifying feature of internet culture as consumers of content themselves become creators by adding wit or silliness into otherwise neutral or even serious settings or online pieces.
No doubt, it helps bring some fun but some say that it may reduce the significance of historical events especially iconic photos of the same.
For example, scholars looked at over thirty examples of the so-called “Accidental Napalm” meme, which uses the famous image photographed by Nick Ut featuring the Vietnam War napalm girl, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, in 1972.
In analyzing several specific examples, the scholars took note of how “some memes may actually dissolve the original significance of iconic photographs and potentially degrade, rather than enhance, public culture.”
For many who were born during the time when the internet has become an ubiquitous part of daily life, we would most likely be introduced to historical events either in books or the more probable source, the internet.
Though memes may distort or degrade the original meaning of some iconic photos, the act of editing or manipulating these images to satisfy a particular narrative has been done for the longest time.
Not to downplay the effects that memes may have on these historical events, but I would argue that it is up to people to do their due diligence regarding these photos and try to preserve the significance of the event without completely tarnishing or erasing the original.
At the end of the day, in an age where everything is shared online and meanings become more fluid, there is no impeding people from doing what they want with these content.