A Phenomenology of Meme Culture Across 2020

Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Apryl Alexander

Second Advisor

Tracy Vozar

Third Advisor

Walter Simon


Memes, Memetics, Culture, Internet, Online, Digital, Narratives, Themes


Memes are inherently psychological as they are ideas, behaviors, or styles that become popularized and are spread by means of imitation from person to person. Memes often carry symbolic meanings representing particular phenomena or themes and can form cultures unto themselves. Intentions behind memes can vary ranging from all types of humor to critical analysis of charged topics, to pop-culture references, to summarizing relatable experiences, and more. As of January 2021, the Internet is being used by approximately 59% of the global population (Johnson, 2021). Meme culture has grown and adapted to this computerized realm by way of various formats including images, videos, audio samples, and more. Memes are now spread exponentially more rapidly and thoroughly than ever before and have since become a method in which human narratives are explored, distilled, challenged, and/or satirized daily. Over the course of the year 2020, various crises exacerbated and/or sparked by the global Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have created a new and unique Internet environment where the role of memes continues to evolve. The challenges of 2020 (including dramatic shifts in socialization, political landscape, and more) have raised various questions regarding the ways humanity interacts and/or disengages with one another, especially considering a general trend of increased online engagement brought on by physical distancing. Memes continue to serve as snapshots of human narratives that reflect thoughts, emotions, and beliefs in various ways.

Publication Statement

Copyright held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


46 pgs

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